March 13, 2010
In a press release dated March 12th, 2010, Amnesty International called for actions to improve maternal health care for American women. A recent report entitled "Deadly Delivery" from Amnesty International showed that the US ranks 41st in the world for a risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications.
Amnesty International has outlined several key areas that need addressing, stating that as many at half of the maternal deaths in the US could have been prevented with improved maternal care. Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA executive director, states "Mothers die not because the United States can't provide good care, but because it lacks the political will to make sure good care is available to all women."1
The organization labeled these six areas as being ones where access to safe childbirth and care is neglected.
- Women aren't receiving enough information about the signs of complications and the risks of medical interventions, such as inducing labor or c-sections.
- Unlike in other countries, most women in the U.S. do not receive home visits following childbirth, even though more than half of all maternal deaths occur within 42 days of giving birth.
- The cost for maternal care is just too high for many women to pay and many women find that they cannot obtain insurance after becoming pregnant.
- Far too many barriers are preventing pregnant women from getting proper care before, during and after their delivery.
- African American women are four times as likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women. Disparities have not improved in more than 20 years.
- Few systems are in place to analyze existing problems and propose possible solutions to improve maternal health standards.
Amnesty International invites activists to take part in making the changes necessary to improve maternal health in the US.
1. Urge the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve timely access to quality maternal care. As the principal agency for protecting health in this country, this department must be at the heart of efforts to change the system. We are asking Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of this department, to work with President Obama in setting up an Office of Maternal Health within HHS dedicated to providing the much-needed oversight for preventing, recognizing and responding to the leading complications that cause pregnancy-related deaths.
2. Volunteer to meet with Senators and Representatives in your local district to inform them about this tragedy. Amnesty supporters will be spreading the word to elected officials March 29 - April 9th and engaging them to prevent maternal deaths. We will train you and give you the support you need to educate and enlist your representatives in the effort to reduce maternal deaths.
1. Amnesty International Press Release. March 12, 2010. Amnesty International Calls on President Obama to Establish Office of Maternal Health to Lead Government Effort to Reduce Appalling U.S. Death Rate for Women Having Babies. http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20100312001&lang=e. Accessed March 13, 2010.
Amnesty International Press Release. March 12, 2010. USA urged to confront shocking maternal mortality rate. http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGPRE010882010&lang=e. Accessed March 13, 2010.