The Widdershins

Won’t somebody please think of the…women?

Posted on: August 2, 2017

Fair warning Widdershins. This post is not for the faint of heart. There will be blood (and the measuring of) and hemorrhages and rouge placentas. Among the myriad of other women’s issues ignored, we have a an inexplicable rise in maternal mortality rates. Or maybe it’s not inexplicable at all – our legislators just don’t care.

C_0ahJNVYAACaOIStudies have shown that the US has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. This NPR article mostly centers around one woman, but covers the stunning statistics. Lauren (who was a neonatal intensive care nurse) has a normal delivery and a few hours later is dead from a pretty common condition. Preeclampsia. They paid little attention to her dangerously rising blood pressure. When she complained of pain in the upper abdomen, they gave her an antacid. Her death could have been prevented with only an anti-hypertensive drug and magnesium sulfate. That’s just one woman with one condition. We’re woefully behind. (my bold)

American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians. In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that “a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.” But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths are preventable.

It’s a long article and a lot of it is about Lauren’s personal history and her husband’s reaction. But it covers many issues. While infant mortality has fallen, maternal deaths are soaring. This can no longer be ignored. There is hope. California (naturally) is leading the way. California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death during childbirth.

Dr David Legrew was mostly concerned with deaths from hemorrhaging, especially prevalent in women who had C-sections in previous deliveries. But it doesn’t take a genius to know birthing centers should be equipped with emergency items. A “hemorrhage toolkit”.

One key idea in the hemorrhage toolkit was to make sure hospitals were armed with all the best protocols and necessary tools that might save those moms’ lives in the event of a bleed.

At St. Joseph hospital, Lagrew showed me a simple beige, waist-high rolling cart with four drawers and red handles, known as “the hemorrhage cart.” Every hospital delivering babies should have one, the CMQCC toolkit says. The cart is filled with everything to manage a hemorrhage: medicines that slow the flow of blood, instruments that repair a tear or laceration, intrauterine balloons that can provide pressure and control bleeding from a uterus that isn’t contracting well.

“Minutes count, so you can’t afford to be thinking, ‘Hey, what med do I need to use next? Where do I find a balloon catheter to stop the bleed?’” Lagrew says.

Is that too much to ask? Better training and having what you need at hand?

I don’t think anyone will be surprised that the rates of death are much higher in Texas. I don’t think anyone will be surprised it’s 3Xs higher for black women. In fact, one study DFsMEjLVoAErtfOhad to separate Texas from their study because it skewed the results so badly. What do you expect from a state that defunds PP, closes PP and other abortion clinics, enacts restrictive abortion laws and refuses to expand Medicaid? (Like my own state)

A University of Maryland study released last year showed the mortality rate had doubled from 2010 to 2012. Plus this:

There were some changes in the provision of women’s health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women’s health clinics. Still, in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality ratewithin a 2-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely. A future study will examine Texas data by race–ethnicity and detailed causes of death to better understand this unusual finding.

I wouldn’t normally link to a local (Texas) TV station (in fact the video is worthless), but I did want to share this:

State Rep. Shawn Thierry sought to look into one particularly disturbing trend that the Texas task force had found: Black women make up 11 percent of births, but 28 percent of death. Thierry, a Democrat from Houston, wanted to compare the risk of black women in different income brackets.

But Thierry’s bill – which was backed by the Texas Medical Association and American Heart Association – died along with a parade of other proposals after tea party-backed lawmakers, protesting a lack of movement of their own pet issues, used a House procedural maneuver to kill every bill on a legislative calendar that wasn’t supposed to generate debate.

“We haven’t done enough,” Thierry said.

And did I mention that this year’s session has ended so lawmakers will have to wait until they reconvene in 2019 to address the issue. What?! WTH Texas? Well, I’m sure they will eventually get around to it little ladies.

So let’s take inventory. All over the country, states are defunding and closing Planned Parenthood and other clinics, passing anti-abortion laws, trying to pass legislation so no employer has to provide insurance to cover birth control, hoping to remove pre-natal, neo-natal, etc. care from insurance policies (now guaranteed by the ACA). I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things. Help me out.

I’d just like to ask them – if you’re going to force women to have more children and brush off maternal deaths, who in the hell do you think will raise the children? These people are exhausting.

I don’t want to go too long, so I’ll add some other thoughts and links in the comments.

Open thread. (otherwise known as ‘what fresh hell did we wake up to today?’)


81 Responses to "Won’t somebody please think of the…women?"

Important story, GAgal. I was fuming when reading that story. They fcking didn’t look at her BPs? Preeclampsia is a well-known danger in pregnancy and childbirth. Of course you track BPs and pay attention if they trend upward. And any abdominal pain in a woman after giving birth needs to be considered as serious unless definitively proven otherwise. What a sad story, and it should not have happened.

The US’s maternal mortality rate has been above that of most other industrialized countries for decades — along with most other health statistics. It’s worse for women of color and low-income women.

I can’t help but think the for-profit nature of US healthcare and the increased patient loads are not conducive to good outcomes.

On a related healthcare note:

Drat, have to click thru to the link to see names of other countries.

@1 It really bothers me that these issues are left behind in the chaos of Trump. If Hillary had “won”, you better believe this would be a top priority of her HHS.

I see that Trump begrudgingly signed the Russian sanctions bill. As if he had a choice. Now he needs to be slammed on what he’s doing to protect us from hacking now and in the next election.

Does Rex Tillerson still have hope for his half a trillion dollar oil deal with Russia? He’s refusing $80 million set aside by Congress (for ISIS,too)and if he doesn’t take the first $60 million by the end of Sept it will expire.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is resisting the pleas of State Department officials to spend nearly $80 million allocated by Congress for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation…

Hammond further expressed hesitation about needling the Russians at a time when Tillerson was trying to find common ground with the Kremlin on sensitive matters such as the war in Syria. The Kremlin-backed news outlet Sputnik has compared the Global Engagement Center to George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

Yeah, we wouldn’t want to needle Russia would we?

Trump’s approval ratings! LOL!

GAgal, great post and I believe, like you do, this is one of the most important under covered stories of the last decade. If you climb to 30K feet, it is apparent that health care financing drive these horrendous outcomes and financing is being driven by these Bible thumping zealots. It might just be me, but I do believe this is so pathetically shameful, people are embarrassed to talk about it.

That’s why someone needs to hit people between the eyes with it. What I don’t understand is why doesn’t some enterprising politician just come out and say, “Republicans are willing to gamble on the life of your wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter in order to make white men feel superior about their religion. Vote accordingly.”

GAgal, thank you for sharing this. Horribly shocking, and now I’m so angry I’m shaking. Fucking rethuglicans.

Out of my 7 miscarriages (supposed to be called spontaneous abortions), two were bad, and one, I was hemorrhaging so badly I couldn’t believe I had that much blood to lose and will not gross you out with further details. Fortunately (for me, and my kid, that I had a year later), I was able to get prompt emergency medical care at a hospital that had a special operating room to deal with these situations and I was given an immediate emergency abortion. I have read stories that women in similar distress in other states have had to wait while other doctors are called in to determine if the embryo/fetus is still alive, with disastrous results. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, am glad to live in a modern area, that doesn’t let men I’ve never met decide if I get the emergency treatment I need based on their religion beliefs.

@9, Prolix, that’s a good idea.

Time to bring Women on Web to the US in a big way. Back to the days of an underground railroad to help women out of this slavery. It’s easier now than in the days before Roe v. Wade because we have morning after pills.

The speed with which we’re losing our rights is staggering.

I finally read about Magnitsky. This was very interesting (and sad, and frightening):

My God I knew our maternal mortality numbers were bad compared to other countries but I didn’t know they were off the friggin’ chart!

Thanks for writing about this GAgal.

@9 Health insurance is a big part of the problem. After birth, insurance (and Medicaid) pays for multiple visits for the baby, in quick succession. For women, most insurance covers one ob/gyn visit at six weeks. There are women who die days, weeks, even months later. It’s like once the baby is born they tell the women ‘okay, you’ve done your part. Now let’s all fuss over the baby to make sure it’s thriving’.

Later symptoms are downplayed. Even women can be conditioned to ignore there own symptoms. They may think to themselves ‘yeah, something feels strange, but what do I expect? I just had a baby.’

@10 Annie, Sorry you had to go through that trauma. When I mentioned blood loss at the beginning of the post, I was referring to the VOX article. (don’t read that one if you don’t want to further stress) It was about new techniques to actually measure blood loss during birth, whereas before doctors and nurses were “eye balling” the loss.

@12 That women on the web needs to expand. (on abortion pharmacueticals)

The doctor can only help you if :
•you live in a country where access to safe abortion is restricted

Can we include Texas and other red states?

@13 I watched Browder’s testimony and posted it on an earlier thread. If one main journalist would pick this up, the others would be pushed to follow it.

@17 GAgal. If I remember right, the US is explicitly one of the countries they’re willing to help because access is so restricted here.

Hilarious! Bunga invent wheel!

I wish more media would take heed of what Michael Schmidt said on MTP earlier. The whole segment was on Trump’s lies. Finally, Schmidt says “He’s not lying TO the media. He’s lying THROUGH the media to the American people.” Take that Chuck.

@21: I loved how the other cavewoman proved she knew how to sharpen a spear.

@22: And that probably sailed right over Chuck’s head. SAD!

New pic on the right!

@23: Behind the paywall.


@26 Behind the paywall for me too, but here’s what it’s about. Remember when Kushner’s sister was recorded in China speaking to investors promising an investor immigration pass if they would sink $500K into Kushner’s properties here? When that was found out, they backed off supposedly. Something along those lines, I guess.

@28: Wish there was a way to get around that. Sometimes WSJ will have pieces available for everyone.

Fredster @ 25, Yay Maxine! Thanks Fredster!

@32: Thanks contrask. I thought possibly you had a school/education account or something.

@20, “Rock sharp” LOLlol!

Oh good grief!

Generals made secret agreement to babysit Trump as he gained access to nukes

@10, annie, how horrible for you. I’m glad you got good care in time.

You’re right, in medical terms any miscarriage is termed a spontaneous (as opposed to induced) abortion. Unfortunately “abortion” is a highly charge word for some laypeople.

The US also has a poor rating for neonatal deaths compared to most other countries. And for health of adults compared to most other countries. Hmmm, what’s the correlation…

@35, how sensible of the generals. (headdesk)

Another “coincidence.” That coincidence pile grows taller every day.

Love the pic of Maxine! Every time I see talk of Bernie running in 2020, I think ‘Hell yeah… We’ll run Maxine against him and wipe him out for good…’ If he can, why can’t she?

@40: Absolutely! Works for me.

Shocking, even though so many shocking events have already happened and are being uncovered.

Border Patrol Ordered To Block Congressmen During Travel Ban

As chaos unfolded at the nation’s airports, Trump administration officials issued clear directives: treat lawyers’ calls like “protests” and keep duly elected representatives out.

On the chaotic day the Trump administration’s travel ban went into effect, high-level Homeland Security officials directed their staff at airports around the country to stiff-arm members of Congress and treat lawyers with deep suspicion.

Members of Congress say they’re shocked by the orders, uncovered in documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from The Daily Beast and The James Madison Project, both of which were represented by the law office of Mark S. Zaid.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who went to Dulles Airport during the ban to try to get information on people being detained, told The Daily Beast he found CBP’s behavior appalling. “I think it’s outrageous,” he said. “Members of Congress have an Article 1 responsibility in the Constitution [to oversee the executive branch], and it is completely improper and, from my point of view, extralegal for the CBP to decide they’re going to ignore the elected representatives of the people.”

“This is something you’d expect from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI,” said Jake Laperruque, senior counsel to the Constitution Project.

An update from Sara’s husband:

No real change. Things are slowing down. Per a psysic, Sara has been visiting all the people that she loves. If that is the case this will take a while. Just waiting for the crossing.

Wonderful post GAgal!

Important issue that GOP white men and 33% of the deplorable population don’t give a crap about healthcare and the mortality rate of our women and babies.

Wake up women, fight back, your life depends on it! All those red state women will pay dearly for their votes, even if it happens to their daughters and granddaughters.

@44 fredster, I’m sure her hubby has insisted that she be made as comfortable as possible. She’s been dealing with this for quite a while, hasn’t she?

@45 Thanks Shadow. You know it would be great if they could get those life saving measures in place NOW instead having to debate, legislate and wait for the studies to tell them what they already know. I guess we’ll have to leave it up to California and other blue states to lead the way. Maybe shame the others in to taking action. If they feel shame.

Just realized I’m on the path of totality for the solar eclipse. 100%. Cool!!

@44, Fredster, that’s both sad and in a way comforting. I know you have grief in your heart and love for your friend. May her passing be free of pain and worry, and may she feel surrounded by the love of her friends and family.

@48, Cool! We are near, but not total. We plan to travel to some place possibly Idaho, in the path of the totality, and backpack in the mountains for a couple of days before and after.

The kid starts back to school Friday, but they are out on the 21st. The school calendar says Solar Eclipse Day.

Fredster @44. So so so sorry to hear that. But even at such a awe-ful time, some of the joy she shared with those of you around her comes through: “…visiting all the people that she loves. If that is the case this will take a while.”

Something makes me bet she matched her husband’s sense of humor.

@46: GAgal, she was diagnosed about two years ago I believe.

@49: Luna I’m hoping she and hubby both feel the warmth and encircling love all of her friends have them in right now.

@52: quixote, yes she had a fabulous sense of humor.

BTW, I decided to lie down for a bit in case she decided to come visit me. 😉

@48: Here’s a Vox link that lets you put in your zip code to find out how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to see.

GAgal, great post! And thank you for helping me out while I was away!

ProPublica has done a few cover stories on maternal mortality over the last couple of months. It seems so strange that this is something that would be happening in 2017, but then again – nothing surprises me anymore.

47 & 48

Yes, GAgal.
I remember my pg experience as being full of medical problems and the doctors just implying I needed to suck it up. Lucky that I was/am healthy, or everything could have been critical.

48 GAgal

That’s awesome, hope you report your black-out experience to us. CA will only have a partial eclipse.

54 Fredster

Thanks for that link, I will only see a 76% eclipse here. Boooo…

Hoping the best for your friend, her family and you – Fredster.

She is surrounded with love, that is the best we can all wish for.

Washington (CNN)Support is gathering behind a bipartisan push to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from potentially being fired by President Donald Trump.

Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, plan to introduce a measure Thursday that would bar the President from directly firing any special counsel — retroactive to Mueller’s appointment in May.

@61, Congress interfering with the President’s authority again!


WSJ reports Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in DC.

Yes! Grand Jury. Now things are happening1

@56 DYB! Are you back from vacay? Hope you had a great time!

Yes, I should have mentioned ProPublica. That NPR piece was actually a collaboration of ProPublica/NPR.

West Virginia’s Democratic gov expected to announce at Trump rally he’s switching to Reublican.

Justice, a coal magnate and the wealthiest man in West Virginia, first won office last year. Before announcing his candidacy, he was wooed by both Democrats and Republicans. Ultimately, he opted to run as a Democrat.

Justice’s party switch is a slap in the face to the Democratic Governors Association, which spent more than $1 million to try to get Justice elected in 2016. The Republican Governors Association spent $3.7 million backing his GOP rival.

I would be so mad if my Gov changed TO rethug! OMG

@44 Fredster. I’m so sorry for Sarah & her family & good friends like you who are going through this. There is noting easy about it. Praying for all to find comfort.

@64, I was very excited when I saw that headline, until I read this part:

The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, signals that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry will likely continue for months.

Months! Hurry up, please.

He’s already gone off the deep end! And if he’s “unfit for the job” that’s a 25th Amendment matter.

One cannot be impeached and removed for being an embarrassment to the United States or an egomaniac temperamentally unfit for the job (that was the argument for not electing him). Unless he really goes off the deep end, invoking the 25th Amendment is not a realistic option.

@69: Thanks contask. She passed this morning. Her fight is over now. Concern now is for her husband.

Aww – poor Sarah has no more agony, but it’s so hard! So sorry for him.

This article amazes me. After reading it I’m even more outraged the GOP has stood by Trump so long:

Sorry to hear Fredster. Condolences to her friends like you and her family.

@74 Flynn sure had his fingers in a lot of pies, didn’t he? And now Cambridge Analytica! That ties in Bannon and Jared. Now, if we can tie Spectrum Health in with them, maybe we can ‘get’ Betsey Devos and her brother Erik – using data to spread Russian disinformation (and pin pointing certain districts! That would be great.

@72, {{{Fredster}}} My sympathies to Sara’s husband and friends.

New post upstairs.

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