Deadly Delivery

Amnesty International has decided to get on board with the USA’s atrociously poor numbers on maternal and infant mortality when compared to the rest of the world. They state “This not just a public health emergency, this is a human rights crisis.” I fully agree.

More than two women die every day in the USA from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Approximately half of these deaths could be prevented if maternal health care were available, accessible and of good quality for all women in the USA.

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 40 other countries. For example, the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the USA is five times greater than in Greece, four times greater than in Germany, and three times greater than in Spain.

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. 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.

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.

Read the rest of the summary or read the whole report here.

The Masquerade of Noncomformity

More importantly, when we appeal to some notion of an unmodified or undecorated body, we participate in the adoption of a false neutrality. We pretend, in those moments, that there is a natural body or fashion, a way of dressing or wearing yourself that is not a product of culture. Norms always masquerade as non-choices, and when we suggest that for example, resisting sexism means everyone should look androgynous, or resisting racism means no one should modify the texture of their hair, we foreclose people’s abilities to expose the workings of fucked up systems on their bodies as they see fit.

Dean Spade as quoted by Mimi Thi Nguyen in Gender/Queer: Dressed to Kill, Fight to Win at Racialicious (which is a brilliant title, by the way).

One day when I grow up, I hope to be able to write brilliant, moving, and kick ass rhetoric and critique like both Spade and Nguyen do. I feel moved by this indescribable intensity and passion inside of me to make the world a better place by illuminating the  connections and intersectionalities of oppressions. I want people to think when they read my words and begin to piece together the puzzle, inspiring them to go out and change things for the better.

It has been dawning on me with my interactions with others and conversations with L. in particularly that I must keep a radical edge to my politics, queerness, activism, and midwifery work in order to remain true to myself. While this has been a daunting thought for the past several years of my life, I’m beginning to see it kick doors and opportunities wide open in all directions. What incredible freedom to be yourself, radically and unapologetically. This is not something I have had the luxury of taking for granted in my life, as a queer woman in particular. This opens up expansive possibilities for me – first on the list is to learn to express my inner radical voice through the written word.

This also means shaking up the birth world. To borrow the brilliant phrase from Mai’a, I want to be an outlaw midwife. For me, this means education and change on a massive scale. What do you do when the birth world doesn’t match your view of a fair, or reproductively just movement? Why, you change it of course. Collaborate with others, form fellow radicals, and take the birth world by storm. At least that’s how I imagine it in my head. In the meantime, I will continue to refine my thoughts and learn as much as I can. How else am I going to figure out how to write as beautifully or as meaningfully as the brilliant Dean Spade?