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“Born Free: Birth in America” Investigates the Uptick in Maternal Mortality

baby-1531059_1280-1024x576The new feature length documentary “Born Free: Birth in America” is a 95-minute investigation into maternal mortality in the United States, and why it’s increasingly dangerous for mothers to give birth in this country. The movie was made by Paula James-Martinez, a British journalist who became a mother in 2018. It was released on May 14, Mother’s Day, of this year. For the documentary, Ms. James-Martinez went cross-country with an all-female crew to figure out why the United States is the most expensive and dangerous developed country in which to give birth. If your loved one died while giving birth and you suspect professional negligence, call the seasoned Chicago-based medical malpractice attorneys of Moll Law Group. We represent clients around the country and billions have been recovered in lawsuits with which we’ve been involved.

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Maternal mortality is defined to include any deaths during pregnancy or deaths that occur within a year after giving birth. Common causes of maternal mortality include excessive bleeding, infection, drug overdose, and suicide.

“Born Free” includes testimony from a wide range of parents who suffered birth trauma. One of the women went through an episiotomy, which results in the vagina being cut to be wider for childbirth, against her will. A Black man whose wife bled to death after a c-section delivery was interviewed; he filed a civil rights lawsuit against the hospital alleging discrimination in treating his wife. Ms. Martinez’s goal was to get the mortality information in front of those who might otherwise not have access and give them a way to advocate for themselves.

A research study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is in sync with the documentary. The study specified that maternal deaths doubled between 1999-2019 with Black mothers dying at the highest rate around the country. The data indicates that many deaths were preventable. Ms. James-Martinez told an interviewer that the rates for Black women were disproportionally bad, and that the data showed that their mortality rate wasn’t the result of poor self-care or improper eating or anything along those lines.

The highest rates of maternal mortality were in the South, the Midwest, and states such as Wyoming and Montana. Possible reasons for these high rates of death are the United States’ underinvestment in primary care, mental health and social services. These trends were exacerbated by the pandemic.

In recent years, rates jumped significantly for different minority groups in certain states. For example, from the first decade of the study to the second decade of the study, increases in maternal mortality leaped 105% for Hispanic mothers in Tennessee, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, and Georgia; 93% for Black mothers in Texas, New Jersey, Louisiana, Georgia, and Arkansas; and 83% for Asian and Pacific Islander mothers in Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri.

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If you or a loved one was injured as a result of a doctor’s negligence or failure to obtain consent, you should call the trustworthy Chicago-based medical malpractice lawyers of Moll Law Group to see whether you have a claim. We represent injured consumers across the nation. Please complete our online form or call us at 312.462.1700.


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