A Mother’s Right to Life

Why are American mothers dying in childbirth at higher rates than in other developed countries? And who is to blame? Kim Brooks raised these questions in her Opinion essay “America Is Blaming Pregnant Women for Their Own Deaths.” More than 900 readers responded with comments on the article, including parents who shared their own harrowing birth stories and who often said they felt their lives were devalued, in favor of their child’s, by their doctors during the delivery process.

Medical professionals responded with accounts of systemic problems within the health care industry, such as the lack of emergency protocols in hospitals that would protect the life of the mother. Kayla Tab, a nurse in San Francisco, commented on the difficulties of weighing which life to prioritize in the case of an emergency: “In health care, we may make it seem like it’s all about the baby, but that’s often times because the fear of a stillbirth weighs so heavily on us. We feel caught in the middle.”

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