The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Maternal Deaths Rise in the U.S

Mar 14, 2022

The U.S., the wealthiest country in the world, has the grim reputation for having the highest maternal death rate of any other advanced capitalist country, and higher, even, than many other very poor countries. And during the first year of the pandemic, maternal death rates went up by 14%, to 861 deaths in 2020, compared to 754 in 2019. That means almost 24 deaths for every 100,000 live births. And Black women experienced the most deaths: one third of the pregnant women and new mothers who died in 2020 were Black. Their mortality rate was nearly three times that of white women.

To understand how outrageous these numbers are, you have only to look at the maternal mortality rates in other countries as a point of comparison. In Norway and New Zealand, their rate was fewer that 2 deaths per 100,000 live births, or in Canada and France, it was less than 9 deaths per 100,000 live births

But in this richest country, that spends more on health care than any other country in the world, the poverty, the racism, and the lack of a quality national health care system are the reasons for the higher rates of maternal deaths.

Those problems existed before the pandemic. The vital prenatal and postnatal care that pregnant women need were already out of reach for many poor and working class women. And care got further out of reach. The responsibility for the care of children was already primarily on women, and became even more so, with children at home, putting further obstacles in the way of pregnant women getting to medical appointments. Pregnancy puts women at risk for more severe disease if they were infected with the coronavirus, but vaccines were not available for pregnant women in 2020. The list goes on and on.

A system that was not working for the vast majority of working class and poor before the pandemic, got more broken. And women and new mothers paid the price.