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

Health Disparities and New Moms

Oct 16, 2023

A new 19-million-dollar federal grant created the MIRACLE Center: a Michigan center aimed at reducing pregnancy-associated deaths among Black, Hispanic, American Indian women and women in rural areas. Researchers will take a public health approach to reversing worsening maternal mortality: the U.S. has a maternal death rate three times that of other high-income countries!

In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says 64% of maternal deaths each year are preventable. The disparities are alarming. From 2015–19, black women died from pregnancy-related causes at a rate of 30 per 100,000 live births—more than double the overall rate. (White women died from pregnancy-related causes at a rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 births, also catastrophic.)

More than half of deaths of women happen after the baby is born. As MSU professor Jennifer Johnson explains, "If a mom is just trying to make ends meet, she may not go back for a two-week or six-week checkup.... She may be having headaches, or she may be having shortness of breath ... and just sort of shake it off or think, ‘Oh, I don’t have time for this’ and then she dies."

Said another advocate for new moms, "We have clients going back to work two weeks after delivery because they can’t afford the time off. They can’t afford to miss work at the minimum-wage jobs they’re working—just to keep food on the table."

The Miracle Center will try three interventions. First, in the Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Flint areas, community health advocates will go to the homes of pregnant women and new moms and help stand up for them within the broken healthcare system. Second, digital help will be available for women to learn about health warning signs and to connect with healthcare quickly. Third, expanded prenatal care will be funded in 14 counties. After 7 years, the funding for this desperately needed project will end.

In this society, the joy and wonder that is natural to feel around the birth of a new baby exists within a U.S. healthcare system based on making money. Prenatal healthcare and labor and delivery units are not big profit generators. Humankind has always required community support for new moms and babies. None of this should involve making a profit! Moms and families deserve all the money it takes for childbirth to be safe and for the next generation to have a great start in life.