The number of women in the United States who died from pregnancy-related issues rose during the first year of the pandemic, with the steepest increases seen among Black and Hispanic women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
In 2020, 861 U.S. women died of maternal health causes, an increase of 14 percent from 754 deaths in 2019, a new NCHS study found. The U.S. maternal mortality rate in 2020 amounted to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, continuing the country’s trend of lagging far behind other wealthy countries in protecting pregnant women from death.
They point to adoption as an alternative to abortion, all while doing virtually nothing to improve health outcomes for the women they’re subjugating.
According to the study, Black women were nearly three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes in 2020. Among Black women, there were 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births that year, a nearly 26 percent increase from the previous year. Among white women, there were 19.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, up from 17.9 the previous year. That’s still a troublingly high number but a statistically insignificant year-to-year increase, according to the report. With a roughly 40 percent spike in pregnancy-related deaths, Hispanic women saw the steepest increase in maternal mortality from 2019 to 2020. Women in that group moved from 12.6 deaths per 100,000 live births to 18.2.
The death rates align with historic racial health disparities that have come into clearer focus throughout the pandemic, with Black and Hispanic people disproportionately suffering from poor access to reliable health care and stable housing.
The NCHS data also comes at a time when conservative lawmakers across the country are working feverishly to restrict abortion access, with many claiming pregnant women should be forced to give birth and give their children up for adoption if they don’t want to be parents.
For example, Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott’s new, roundly mocked proposal for a Republican Party agenda claims “abortions are a tragedy” and says the U.S. should pay “all costs associated with carrying the child to term and placing the child for adoption.”
But it says nothing about improving health disparities so the women giving birth don’t die.
Anti-abortion conservatives have deployed this strategy for years: They point to adoption as an alternative to abortion, all while doing virtually nothing to improve health outcomes for the women they’re subjugating. It’s oppression masked as high-minded religiosity. And it reveals the conservative movement's infantile understanding.
A forced pregnancy isn’t about being "pro-life." In fact, for far too many women, it could be a death sentence.