March of Dimes released a new report Wednesday which highlights the geographical disparities in maternal mortality across the country. There are large swaths of the United States that are maternity deserts.
“These are counties in the country that lack a hospital that offers obstetric services,” said March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart. “Counties that also lack an OB-GYN or a nurse-midwife and these maternity care deserts mean that those women living in those counties have virtually no access to any of the basic services that are really needed for them to have a successful and healthy pregnancy.”
The Sunflower State suffers from this condition as well.
“About half of all the counties in Kansas are considered maternity care deserts,” said Stewart. “There are many thousands of women in Kansas who are left today without the necessary resources, even the basic resources to ensure they can go and deliver a healthy baby with trained medical professionals at a facility that is appropriate to offer them the services that they need.”
As part of the March of Dimes #BlanketChange campaign, the group is asking voters to think of babies when they go to the ballot box.
“One of the things that we can all do is advocate for all members of Congress and for Republicans and Democrats to come together to make sure that we have access and expanded access to care for women, especially before pregnancy and during pregnancy,” said Stewart. “We can also make sure that there are other services available to women like doulas and other kinds of efforts around telemedicine to reach hard to reach areas across the state of Kansas.”
More than 5 million women in the U.S. live in maternity care deserts, yet nearly 150,000 babies are born to women living in these areas.