Adeline Chen, Senior Producer at CNN, speaks of reproductive rights in the context of her recent miscarriage.
For nearly every day of 2022, I’ve become all too aware of the emotional and physical cost of bearing this loss. What I had never considered and was appalled to discover were the financial costs, a literal reminder of the steep price of pregnancy in America.
Though not every miscarriage requires medical care, many often do. Most major insurance companies say they cover miscarriage costs, but nothing is covered until the deductible is reached. What results is a monetary guessing game amid a period of deep grief that often becomes another barrier that keeps women from seeking necessary medical care.
Among developed nations, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rates, rates that have only continued to climb throughout the last decade. In 2020, for every 100,000 live births in the US, 23+ women died, up from 20 in 2019 and 17 in 2018.
Women who develop high blood pressure or gestational diabetes during their pregnancy raise their chances of developing heart disease and diabetes later on in life. Moreover, the crucial “fourth trimester,” which consists of the weeks after a baby is born, is just as pivotal for the mother’s future health as it is the newborn. While newborns have an endless number of appointments in the first few weeks, new mothers are largely left to fend for themselves and manage pain, even while their bodies are undergoing extreme physical and hormonal changes.
Then there’s the mental health element. A study published in 2011 showed that 15% of women who had healthy pregnancies following a miscarriage suffered from anxiety and depression. What happens to women solely based on her ability to reproduce life is so often out of her control, even if that choice to pursue pregnancy is intentional.
As I write this in May, when Americans celebrate Mother’s Day, I can’t help but see the dichotomy between a holiday that purportedly celebrates the women in our lives and the heated discussion over the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. This decision, if formally handed down as it stands, sets the framework to make reproductive health care infinitely more expensive and tricky for women.
I am not alone in feeling like we’re screaming into a void, one in which our value as women lies solely as empty vessels worthy of carrying life. If we talk about all the nuances that come with reproductive health and ask for help when it’s genuinely needed, it’s seen as a personal problem. It makes me wonder if the US will ever provide equitable reproductive health care for women.
On this Mother’s Day, women deserve more than a bouquet bought last minute or empty platitudes of how strong we are. Instead, we need and rightfully should demand a complete legislative overhaul to support all aspects of reproductive health.