Maternal Health in the U.S.

Maternal Health in the U.S.

The Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011

It's more dangerous to give birth in the United States than in 49 other countries. African-American women are at almost four times greater risk than Caucasian women. A safe pregnancy is a human right for every woman regardless of race or income.

The Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011 would establish accountability, fight maternal health disparities, and combat severe maternal complications. Urge your representative to co-sponsor the bill!

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Just Released: New One-Year Update to Amnesty's Deadly Delivery Report

Note: This summary is based Amnesty's recent report, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, which contains full citations and should be consulted for further information.

Maternal mortality ratios have increased from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006. While some of the recorded increase is due to improved data collection, the fact remains that maternal mortality ratios have risen significantly.

The USA spends more than any other country on health care, and more on maternal health than any other type of hospital care. Despite this, women in the USA have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 49 other countries, including Kuwait, Bulgaria, and South Korea.

African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. These rates and disparities have not improved in more than 20 years.

Maternal deaths are only the tip of the iceberg. During 2004 and 2005, more than 68,000 women nearly died in childbirth in the USA. Each year, 1.7 million women suffer a complication that has an adverse effect on their health.

This is not just a public health emergency - it is a human rights crisis. Women in the USA face a range of obstacles in obtaining the services they need. The health care system suffers from multiple failures: discrimination; financial, bureaucratic and language barriers to care; lack of information about maternal care and family planning options; lack of active participation in care decisions; inadequate staffing and quality protocols; and a lack of accountability and oversight.

Download the full report

Download the summary