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The sad story of American women’s health services seems to revolve around a set of misguided morality-based policies that end up punishing the powerless, often to the point of taking their lives.

Photo in public domain from Unsplash. Taken by William Stitt.
Photo in public domain from Unsplash. Taken by William Stitt.

Lacking universal comprehensive sex education means that many U.S. voters (and sadly, politicians) also lack the knowledge of women’s bodies that would help them pass better policies. This extends to things like offering more extensive prenatal care, to cancer screenings, to abortion.

As I learned at Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit in 2016, the reported rates of maternal trauma are frighteningly high in the U.S. (things like forced episiotomies, and other coercive experiences).

But you know what else is high in the U.S.? Maternal mortality. And that is completely preventable, except we don’t seem to want to work on it.

This Independent article points out that the U.S. is the “only developed country in the world where maternal deaths increased between 1993 and 2013” (according to the WHO). And that’s a shame.

The article actually focuses on the staggering increase in Texas: the number of women who died from pregnancy-related complications between 2010 and 2014 doubled. Yes, doubled. That kind of thing apparently shouldn’t happen unless you’re in a war zone or major economic crisis.

Interpretations of this data are instead looking at the cuts in funding to Planned Parenthood and other health clinics that offered crucial services to low-income and rural women. This is where intersectionality becomes important: women’s health is impacted by a number of other factors, such as ethnicity, social class, and region/location. If a pregnant women is delayed in getting important prenatal care, or even accessing a pregnancy test, due to cost or access, then it could negatively impact her or the fetus’s health in numerous ways.

I don’t know if the people who need to read this article will read it, but I hope this generates some conversation. Because unless we start supporting women’s health (and really, everyone’s) at all stages of the life cycle, we’re just going to see more deaths. And the hypocrisy of that happening in a state and country that claim to have a lot of pro-life adherents is just disgusting.

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Jeana Jorgensen

FOXY FOLKORIST Studied folklore under Alan Dundes at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to earn her PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She researches gender and sexuality in fairy...