Kela Abernathy holds her son, Kaleb, born prematurely, at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Among women of reproductive age in high-income countries, rates of death from avoidable causes, including pregnancy-related complications, are highest in the United States. Photo: Andrea Morales via Redux/New York Times
By Munira Z. Gunja, Shanoor Seervai, Laurie Zephyrin, and Reginald D. Williams II, The Commonwealth Fund, April 5, 2022
The maternal mortality crisis in the United States has been well documented: U.S. women have the highest rate of maternal deaths among high-income countries, while Black women are nearly three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women are.1 But maternal deaths and complications may be a bellwether for the U.S.’s wider failures with respect to women’s health and health care.
Using data from the Commonwealth Fund’s 2020 International Health Policy Survey and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this brief compares selected measures of health care access and outcomes for women of reproductive age (18 to 49) in 11 high-income countries. After identifying gaps in U.S. health system performance for women in this age group, we explore some of the policies other nations have put in place to ensure more equitable access and better health outcomes. We also suggest policy options for the United States.