Amnesty International says U.S. maternal death rate is human rights crisis
The eye-opening report says minority women are more at risk of dying or having complications during pregnancy than white women. Native American and Alaska Native women are 3.6 times as likely as white women to receive late or no prenatal care, while African American women are 2.6 times as likely and Latina women are 2.5 times as likely.
She added: "I think that part of the problem is cultural incompetence in terms of the people who take care of women of color. Every minority has their own set of problems. ... I worked on a Native American reservation ... It's access to care. No one wants to go to a remote community to deliver babies, so they're under the management of midwives without an attending physicians. ... There are more women who die on those reservations than will even be reported."
The Amnesty report details many cases of women who did not receive the care they needed because of a language barrier or lack of insurance. Nearly 13 million women aged 15 to 44 do not have insurance. For women who are uninsured, eligibility for Medicaid can be denied without a letter from a doctor confirming a pregnancy.
According to the report, "a homeless woman violated the terms of her probation in order to be taken into custody, when she was nearly eight months pregnant, because she was desperate to get health care and shelter. Her friend told Amnesty International that she "turned herself in...just so she could get some care for her child, to have her kid."
There's also a lack of accountability on the part of medical staff. "There are no federal requirements to report maternal deaths, and the authorities concede that the number of maternal deaths may be twice as high," the report states. "Reporting of pregnancy-related deaths as a distinct category is mandatory in only six states and despite voluntary efforts in some other states, systematic under counting of pregnancy-related deaths persists."
Amnesty International is calling on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create an Office of Maternal Health to make sure all women have adequate prenatal health care. The organization has a letter at its website that you can copy and send to the Department of Health and Human Services if this is an issue you are concerned about.