Maternal Death Rates In United States Are Sharply Increasing -- What's Going On?

Scott Falkner

On new study being published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology on the maternal death rate includes some pretty stunning information. The maternal death rate study focused on Texas, where the maternal death rate almost doubled between the years of 2010 and 2012. Notably, the maternal death rate study points out that the period the study focused on is the same period in which Texas slashed women's health funding -- primarily to Planned Parenthood.

In 2012, the maternal death rate numbered 148 women in Texas from either while being pregnant or soon after being pregnant. This jump in the rate of Texas maternal deaths almost doubled from 2010, when the fatality rate was at 72 deaths. This mirrors the stats that the deaths per 100 thousand births jumped to 36 in 2014 from 18 in 2006.

And yet, the reasons behind the dramatic rise in maternal death rates in the United States remain a mystery. The managing director of research at Amnesty International in the United States, Rachel Ward, commented on the mystery.

"There is sadly no magic bullet that explains what is behind the high levels of maternal mortality in the United States. It's a combination of factors that speak to the systemic problems of failing to provide affordable, accessible, quality health services to all women in the United States."

One thing that cannot be ignored, however, is the difficulty to access healthcare for expecting mothers, especially for those in rural areas -- which Texas has a lot of. Experts also point out that Planned Parenthood -- and organizations like it -- are a jumping off point for healthcare when it comes to many women.

Additionally, another factor -- albeit a controversial one -- that has been tossed about is the access to safe and legal abortions. According to experts when abortions are illegal, or even hard to come by, statistics state that women don't stop getting them, they just end up attempting dangerous abortions themselves or attempt to access one from individuals who are less than qualified. In developing countries, abortions via less than reputable administrators account for between eight and fifteen percent of maternal deaths. In Texas, the availability of reputable abortion providers for expectant mothers is quickly evaporating. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of credible abortion clinics shrank dramatically fro 41 to 17, which means that the average Texan will have to travel over 100 miles to find such a facility. Clearly, the lack of proper abortion clinics in Texas is yet another reason for such a high maternal death rate.

[Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]