U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Hit 60-Year Peak in 2021
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that, in 2021, the United States suffered its worst maternal mortality rate since 1965. The 2021 rate was 32.9 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births; this rate marks a 40% increase from the rate of 23.8 the previous year.
In reacting to the newest data on U.S. maternal mortality, many sources point out that 2021 was a year fraught with COVID-19-adjacent health care challenges. COVID-19 alone, however, does not account for the steadily rising maternal mortality rate that the U.S. has experienced in recent decades. The U.S. and the Dominican Republic were the only two countries to report a significant increase in maternal mortality between 2000 and 2017. Though health organizations agree that the majority of maternal deaths are preventable, the United States has failed to enact policies that effectively combat the statistic — despite consistently ranking as having one of the highest maternal mortality rates among high income countries.
Activists on both ends of the abortion issue tend to take different stances on maternal mortality, with pro-abortion spokespeople advocating for more abortion as the solution to high maternal mortality rates and pro-life sources arguing that 50 years of legal abortion through all nine months under Roe v. Wade did not prevent the U.S. from achieving epidemic level maternal mortality.
Lila Rose, president and founder of pro-life activism nonprofit Live Action, wrote, “Maternal mortality rates are the highest they have been since 1965. America is now the most dangerous high-income nation in the world to have a baby. This is unacceptable. At the same time, the abortion rate rises, subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.”
Conversely, EMILYs List, an organization that seeks to elect pro-abortion female Democrats to office, said, “Abortion bans are making the maternal mortality crisis even worse [sic] when women are deprived of the right to access full reproductive health care.”
The Washington Stand recently interviewed Dr. Ben Carson on a variety of topics related to the wellbeing of women and children. Dr. Carson is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Trump administration. During our conversation, I asked Dr. Carson to comment on the overall scarcity of basic resources in urban areas, including food deserts and maternity care deserts, that may be contributing to the maternal mortality rate — highlighting that, though Washington, D.C. has some of the most lax abortion laws in the country, its maternal mortality rate in 2020 was 10 points higher than the national average.
“Well, if in fact, the amount of money, time and energy devoted to killing babies were diverted to helping establish healthy families and family environments and support for babies, you would see a very different number when it comes to those statistics that you just acknowledged,” Dr. Carson stated.
Both pro-life and pro-abortion sources tend to agree in recognizing the fact that black mothers are disproportionately affected by the causes of maternal mortality. Significantly, according to the CDC report, the black maternal mortality rate was over twice the national average at 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births — up by nearly 15 points since the 2020 black maternal mortality rate of 55.3. However, black mothers also disproportionately undergo far more abortions than mothers of other races.
Dr. Carson added, “When you look at this nation, close to 40% of abortions are done on black women. And yet blacks only compose 12% of the population. So, it’s very disproportionate.” He went on to conclude, “And I hope at some point that many in the black community will awaken and recognize that these people who purport to be your friends are actually the very ones who are trying to get rid of you.”