Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Women’s health

Rural Hospitals and Obstetric Care

It’s 4 A.M. The baby’s coming. But the hospital is 100 miles away., By Jack Healy, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “A few hours after the only hospital in town shut its doors forever, Kela Abernathy bolted awake at 4:30 a.m., screaming in pain. Oh God, she remembered thinking, it’s the twins. They were not due for another two months. But the contractions seizing Ms. Abernathy’s lower back early that June morning told her that her son and daughter were coming. Now. Ms. Abernathy, 21, staggered out of bed and yelled for her mother, Lynn, who had been lying awake on the living-room couch. They grabbed a few bags, scooped up Ms. Abernathy’s 2-year-old son and were soon hurtling across this poor patch of southeast Missouri in their Pontiac Bonneville, racing for help. The old hospital used to be around the corner. Now, her new doctor and hospital were nearly 100 miles away…”

Low-Income Women’s Health Program – Texas

Texas health program served more low-income women, but improvement since funding cuts is unclear, By Jackie Wang, April 27, 2018, Dallas News: “A new report shows more people enrolled in a health program for low-income women in 2017, but it doesn’t show if the numbers are an improvement over the years before funding was cut. According to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission report published Thursday, Healthy Texas Women increased its total number of clients served from 70,336 in 2016 to 122,406 in 2017. The Family Planning Program increased its clients from 38,404 in 2016 to 96,990 in 2017. Overall, Texas served 29 percent more women in one year…”

Maternal and Infant Mortality

  • Why America’s black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis, By Linda Villarosa, April 11, 2018, New York Times Magazine: “When Simone Landrum felt tired and both nauseated and ravenous at the same time in the spring of 2016, she recognized the signs of pregnancy. Her beloved grandmother died earlier that year, and Landrum felt a sense of divine order when her doctor confirmed on Muma’s birthday that she was carrying a girl. She decided she would name her daughter Harmony. ‘I pictured myself teaching my daughter to sing,’ says Landrum, now 23, who lives in New Orleans. ‘It was something I thought we could do together.’  But Landrum, who was the mother of two young sons, noticed something different about this pregnancy as it progressed…”
  • Report: Texas’ maternal deaths were dramatically lower in 2012 under new methodology, By Marissa Evans, April 9, 2018, Texas Tribune: “The number of Texas women who died from pregnancy complications in 2012 is being cut by more than half through a new state method for counting and confirming maternal deaths — which made Texas the subject of national news coverage over its high death rate. Several of the state’s top health experts released a report in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Monday  showing that by using the new method, the number of women who died dropped from 147 to 56…”

Maternal Mortality – Texas

Dangerous deliveries, By Marissa Evans and Chris Essig, January 16, 2018, Texas Tribune: “In the photos flashing on the projector screen, Michelle Zavala had a look of serenity. In one, her eyes were closed as she smiled with her newborn daughter Clara nestled under her chin. Another showed her kissing her husband Chris on vacation. Another captured her laughing while stomping grapes at a vineyard, radiating the positivity that people loved about her. Below the screen, Michelle lay in a casket, surrounded by bouquets of flowers. The Pflugerville woman died in July — just nine days after giving birth to Clara — from a blood clot in her heart. She was 35. Across the United States, maternal mortality — when a mother dies from pregnancy-related complications while pregnant or within 42 days of giving birth — jumped by 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, according to a 2016 study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology…”

Maternal Mortality

New maternal mortality strategy relies on ‘medical homes’, By Michael Ollove, December 5, 2017, Stateline: “When Hannah White first showed up at the Mountain Area Health Education Center here three years ago, she was in trouble. She was 20 years old, a couple months into her first pregnancy and on the run from an abusive husband in Texas who already had broken her ribs in an attempt, she said, to kill her unborn child. She also has a form of hemophilia which prevents her body from producing platelet granules that stem bleeding. That disease had robbed her of her Malawian mother when Hannah was three months old, which ultimately led to her adoption by American missionaries…”

Maternal Mortality

The quiet crisis among African Americans: Pregnancy and childbirth are killing women at inexplicable rates, By Ann M. Simmons, October 26, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Three weeks after Cassaundra Lynn Perkins gave birth to premature twins, she returned to the hospital, feeling unwell. She phoned her mother from her hospital bed at 3:30 in the morning. ‘I’m just not feeling good,’ she said. Surely it was just another bout of the mysterious illness her daughter had been suffering from for most of her pregnancy, Cheryl Givens-Perkins thought as she rushed over to San Antonio’s North Central Baptist Hospital…”

Infant Mortality

Cities enlist ‘doulas’ to reduce infant mortality, By Michael Ollove, August 17, 2017, Stateline: “This city has opened a new front in its effort to give black newborns the same chance of surviving infancy as white babies: training ‘doulas’ to assist expectant mothers during pregnancy, delivery and afterward. The doula initiative is the latest salvo in the Baltimore City Health Department’s 7-year-old program to combat high infant mortality rates among black newborns…”

Medicaid Coverage

  • States that expanded Medicaid saw drop in medical debt, U study finds, By Christopher Snowbeck, July 24, 2017, Star Tribune: “The federal health law’s Medicaid expansion delivered a degree of economic stability to low-income Americans in states that adopted the program, according to a new report from University of Minnesota researchers. Low-income residents in states like Minnesota that expanded eligibility for Medicaid coverage saw a bigger decline in unpaid medical bills between 2012 and 2015 than people living in states that didn’t expand coverage, according to the study published in a blog by the journal Health Affairs…”
  • How crisis pregnancy center clients rely on Medicaid, By Sarah McCammon, July 24, 2017, National Public Radio: “When Taylor Merendo moved to Bloomington, Ind., nearly two years ago, fleeing an abusive marriage, she needed help. ‘I was six months pregnant and at that point in time, I really didn’t have a stable place to live,’ Merendo says. That’s where the Hannah Center in Bloomington stepped in. It’s what’s known as a crisis pregnancy center, where women are counseled against abortion and often get support after their babies are born…”
  • Alabama officials abandon Medicaid reform plan, By Amy Yurkanin, July 27, 2017, al.com: “State officials have abandoned a plan to transform Medicaid in Alabama from a fee-for-service model into managed care system led by local healthcare organizations due to uncertainty about funding and high start-up costs…”

Medicaid and Maternity Care – Alabama

Some Medicaid mothers must wait weeks, months before first doctor’s visit, By Anna Claire Vollers, May 8, 2017, AL.com: “When Katie Silvia learned she was pregnant in November 2016, her first call wasn’t to her obstetrician – it was to the Alabama Medicaid office. Her husband had received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama that his insurance, a Blue Cross plan purchased through the health exchange, was not going to cover her pregnancy because their income level qualified her for pregnancy Medicaid. But according to doctors and patients, Alabama’s complex maternity Medicaid process can mean some moms don’t get their first OBGYN appointment until they’re well into their second trimester, 13 or more weeks into their pregnancies…”

Medicaid Births – New Mexico

NM has highest rate of Medicaid-covered births, By Rick Nathanson, March 28, 2017, Albuquerque Journal: “New Mexico leads the nation in the percentage of babies born into Medicaid families – which can be taken as a reflection of the state’s high poverty rate or an indication that government here takes care of its own. According to figures from 2015, 72 percent of the births reported in New Mexico were paid for by Medicaid, a jointly funded federal-state health insurance program for low-income, disabled and other people who qualify…”

Access to Health Clinics and Medicaid Births

Cutting Planned Parenthood would increase Medicaid births, C.B.O. says, By Kate Zernike, March 14, 2017, New York Times: “Cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood — a longstanding conservative goal that is included in the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act — would reduce access to birth control for many women and result in thousands of additional Medicaid births, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Because nearly half of all births nationwide are to Medicaid patients, and many of those babies are Medicaid patients themselves, the budget office estimated that defunding Planned Parenthood even for a year would increase Medicaid spending by $21 million in the first year, and $77 million by 2026…”

Infant Mortality – Detroit

Babies pay for Detroit’s 60-year slide with mortality above Mexico’s, By Esmé E. Deprez and Chris Christoff, June 10, 2014, Bloomberg: “Detroit’s 60-year deterioration has taken a toll not just on business owners, investors and taxpayers. It’s meant misery for its most vulnerable: children and the women who bear them. While infant mortality fell for decades across the U.S., progress bypassed Detroit, which in 2012 saw a greater proportion of babies die before their first birthdays than any American city, a rate higher than in China, Mexico and Thailand. Pregnancy-related deaths helped put Michigan’s maternal mortality rate in the bottom fifth among states. One in three pregnancies in the city is terminated. Women are integral to the city’s recovery. While officials have drawn up plans to eliminate blight. . .”

Joblessness and Life Expectancy

Joblessness shortens lifespan of least educated white women, research says, By Sabrina Tavernise, May 30, 2013, New York Times: “Researchers have known for some time that life expectancy is declining for the country’s least educated white women, but they have not been able to explain why. A new study has found that the two factors most strongly associated with higher death rates were smoking and not having a job. The aim of the study, which is being published Thursday in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior, was to explain the growing gap in mortality between white women without a high school diploma and those with a high school diploma or more…”