14 Incredible Facts about Maternal Mortality in the United States

maternal mortality statisticsEvery 90 seconds, one woman in the world dies from pregnancy-related complications. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing countries, particularly South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, making it the greatest health disparity between developed and developing countries.

Because maternal mortality is the greatest health disparity between developed and developing countries, it seems like it’s really not a problem in developed countries like the United States. The statistics seems to illustrate that maternal health is a concern in other countries and not our own. But, that’s not the case. Let’s not pretend that maternal mortality isn’t a problem in the U.S.. Let’s not pretend American women aren’t dying in childbirth when we are capable of saving their lives. Here are X fast facts about maternal mortality in the U.S.

Maternal Mortality in the United States

  1. In the United States, between two or three women die from pregnancy-related complications every day.
  2. African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.
  3. One-third of all women who give birth in the United States, which is about 1.7 million women per year, experience some type of complication that has an adverse effect on their health.
  4. More than 34,000 women who experience some type of complication nearly die from that complication. This number, known as “near misses,” has increased 25 percent between 1998 and 2005.
  5. Forty percent of “near misses” could have been prevented.
  6. Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. This delays the start of prenatal care, which increases the likelihood of complications.
  7. One in four women don’t receive adequate prenatal care in the first trimester.
  8. “Adequate prenatal care” is defined as 13 prenatal visits beginning in the first trimester. Twenty-five percent of women don’t meet this criteria, but this percentage increases to 32 percent for African-American women and 41 percent of Native American and Alaskan women.
  9. Native American women are 3.5 times more likely to receive late or no prenatal care than white women.
  10. Women with no prenatal care are three to four times more likely to die than those who have access to prenatal care.
  11. Among women with high risk pregnancies, African-American women are five and a half times more likely to die than white women.
  12. More than half of all maternal deaths occur between one and 42 days after birth. However, postpartum care is generally limited to one office visit six weeks after birth.
  13. The U.S. has no standardized, nationally-implemented protocols to prevent, recognize, and treat the leading causes of childbirth-related deaths such as blood clots or massive blood loss.
  14. There are no federal requirements to report maternal deaths and data collection at the state level is insufficient, meaning that opportunities to prevent future deaths are missed because we aren’t counting, reviewing, or learning what happened to cause these deaths.
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Our Next Book Club Book is on Rwanda

Rwanda bookSince the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda recently passed, our chapter has chosen We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda as our next book club reading. Fortunately, this one is much shorter than our previous choice, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.

We will be discussing the Rwanda book at our June meeting, which is scheduled for Jun. 11 at 7 p.m. Please make an effort to attend if you plan to read the book with our chapter. It’s okay if you don’t read the entire book, as you can still attend the meeting if you don’t finish it. However, we can’t guarantee that we won’t give away any spoilers.

Book Summary

This summary was taken off of the book’s Amazon page if you’re interested in learning more about our book club choice.

In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon everyone in the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler’s war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch’s haunting work is an anatomy of the war in Rwanda, a vivid history of the tragedy’s background, and an unforgettable account of its aftermath. One of the most acclaimed books of the year, this account will endure as a chilling document of our time.

Don’t Forget: We Have a Meeting Tonight

If you’re more interested in “bringing human rights home” and focusing on human rights issues in the United States, then please attend tomorrow’s Amnesty business meeting if you can (details are below}. During tomorrow’s meeting, one of our members is giving a presentation on Amnesty International’s recent report, “Chicago & Illinois: A 10-Point Human Rights Agenda.” The report outlines 10 human rights issues in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois, and many of these issues are also relevant to St. Louis and Missouri. Please come if you can (sorry for the late notice)!

May Business Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members, chapter members, and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss the human rights issues facing Chicago and Illinois, as well as any other matters affecting our chapter.

When: May 14 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company, on the corner of Roger and Hartford, located in the Tower Grove area. We will meet in the front dining area.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

April Business Meeting Wednesday

Amnesty Business Meeting aprilIt’s April! This means spring is finally here! It also means that our monthly business meetings are moving from the second Tuesday of the month to the second Wednesday of the month. We made this change to allow those who have Tuesday commitments, but still want to be involved with our chapter, to attend at least one of our meetings each month. The time and place of these meetings are the same. So, if you are available this Wednesday at 7 p.m., then consider coming to our upcoming business meeting.

Did You Miss Our Annual General Meeting?

Amnesty International’s annual national human rights conference took place over the weekend, and a few of our members were able to attend. Most of the meeting will be spent updating everyone on what happened during the conference, which includes session recaps, any important information regarding the national organization, and anything else that’s noteworthy (Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance by video, which I think is pretty darn awesome). Besides Snowden, one of the things that the group will be updated on are the resolutions the members voted on during the final day of the conference. These resolutions dictate organizational direction and policy and are created by members during the regional conferences.

Another point of business for tomorrow’s meeting is that we will be deciding our next book club meeting. Every few months, our chapter chooses a human rights book to read. We give ourselves about two months to read the book, where we discuss the contents of our choice at an upcoming meeting. If you want to participate in our next book club discussion, then please come on Wednesday so that you know which book we will be reading. Below is a list of the titles that have been suggested so far, and we be among the choices:

(1)  Phillip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families — about the Rwanda genocide – Full Summary & Reviews
(2)  Death to the Dictator! – A Young Man Casts a Vote in Iran’s 2009 Election and Pays a Devastating Price by Afsaneh Moqadam – Full Summary & Reviews
(3)  Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon – Full Summary & Reviews
(4)  Iran Awakening by Sharin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) — a short and engaging book about the impact of the Islamic revolution in Iran on women’s rights and free speech – Full Summary & Reviews
(5)  Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir – edited by Sanjay Kak — a collection of writings by Kashmiris telling their own stories about the 2010 uprising in Kashmir – Full Summary & Reviews

April  Business Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss our upcoming events, as well as provide a recap of the Annual General Meeting that took place over the weekend.

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company, on the corner of Roger and Hartford, located in the Tower Grove area. We meet in the front dining area.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

photo credit: Sorin Mutu via photopin cc

What You Need to Know about Corporate Accountability

business and human rightsIf businesses and multinational corporations are considered people under the Citizen United ruling, then they ought to be considered people under a variety of other characteristics besides free speech. Businesses and multinational corporations should also be considered people when it comes to human rights, both in acknowledging them and in holding them accountable for human rights violations. If individuals are held to this standard, then they ought to be held by the same standard if they are going to be “people” under the law. Here’s what you need to know about corporate accountability and what governments need to do to ensure these organizations uphold human rights in their operations.

Of the World’s 100 Largest Economies, 42 are Global Corporations, Not Countries

As of 2010, a little less than half of the world’s largest economies are global corporations. That percentage increases to 58% when you look at the top 150 economies. Wal-Mart is the largest global corporation, with its 2010 revenues exceeding the GDPs of 171 countries (note that there are 195 internationally recognized independent states). The five largest energy companies in the world – ExxonMobil, BP, Sinopec, Royal Dutch Petroleum, and China National Petroleum Corporation – actually comprise 2.5% of the world’s global GDP. Those five companies combined have the same size GDP as Canada, which is the 10th largest country in the world.

Overall point: these multinational corporations are powerful, more powerful than much of the world’s independent nations.

Corporate Accountability is More than Getting Justice for Human Rights Abuses

The story of St. Louis and the Veolia water contract is a perfect example of holding corporations accountable for previous actions and preventing them from continuing their behavior. Safe drinking water is a basic human need as well as a basic human right, and shouldn’t be left to transnational companies to do what they want with it while profiting at the expense of the locals and the poor. St. Louisans made it clear that they didn’t like Veolia and that they weren’t going to accept handing over their water or what the company was doing in other parts of the country and the world.

One in four people in the world don’t have safe drinking water. Unchecked corporate power is one of the biggest human rights issues of our time, and although St. Louisans were successful in checking Veolia’s power, there’s still more to do be done with many other organizations and how they’re using their unchecked power to inflict harm.

Let’s Not Forget Their Influence in Politics

Everyone understands that Citizens United gave corporations immense power to influence public policy and to subvert the will of the people. Bank of America is bankrolling Big Coal, while Big Oil has a huge hand in trying to get the Keystone XL pipeline going. Monsanto spent millions in California to defeat a GMO labeling bill in the most recent election. There’s also the role the financial institutions played in preventing regulations of the financial industry, especially in the few years after the crisis. A big part of corporate accountability is holding these companies accountable to their stances and what they want as public policy as well as any human rights abuses and violations they may commit.

We need to challenge corporate election spending, as well as uncover what issues they are spending money on for lobbying and public policy. If corporations are going to spend millions upon millions of dollars to support or to defeat certain issues, then the public (and especially their customers) should know about these activities.

Related Links:

How to Track Relevant Human Rights Legislation

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Lobbying for Human Rights

How to Use Twitter to Promote Human Rights 

March Letter Writing Meeting Tomorrow

letter writing meetingI’ve just finished my own spring break with a trip to Las Vegas, and many others have wrapped up their own spring breaks sometime this month as well. With just one full week left in March, there’s no better time than now to get back into the groove and to join us for tomorrow’s letter writing meeting.

Spring is a time for renewal, and lets renew our efforts to stop human rights abuses around the world and to build awareness for these issues. Below are the meeting details, which haven’t changed (the details for our business meetings have changed).

Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to write letters to the US and foreign governments regarding specific human rights abuses.

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company, on the corner of Roger and Hartford, located in the Tower Grove area. We meet in the main sitting area.

Why: Because every person and every letter can make a difference! If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. Naysayers think these letters can’t make a difference, but criticizing the way others make a difference doesn’t enact change either.

Be part of the solution and join us tomorrow!

Reminder: March Business Meeting Tomorrow

amnesty monthly meetingTomorrow is our third business meeting of 2014, and there is much to discuss! The primary thing we will be planning is our upcoming trip to the Annual General Meeting in Chicago. The human rights conference takes place from Apr 4-6 at the JW Marriott Hotel. This year’s theme is, “Bringing Human Rights Home.”

Important Note Regarding the Annual Conference

We will be conducting a final headcount and organizing our travel plans, so if you want to come with us, then you NEED to attend this meeting. You are welcome to make your own travel arrangements and meet us there, but if you want to utilize the chapter’s transportation options, then you need to attend tomorrow so that we can include you and arrange accordingly. The conference is less than a month away, so we have to make our plans now so that we can ensure that we can accommodate everyone and not have to scramble at the last minute to put everything together.

Also keep in mind that this is the last time our business meetings will take place on the second Tuesday of the month. Starting in April, our business meetings are scheduled for the second Wednesday of the month. This is subject to change. Please pay attention to our blog posts, our Facebook group, and our email reminders for any changes and any other upcoming events.

Other than that, the meeting details are below. We hope to see you at the meeting tomorrow, or perhaps even at the conference as well. Please contact us at amnestystl (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

March Business Meeting Details

Who: Amnesty International members and human rights advocates

What: A meeting to discuss upcoming events and current affairs.

When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Hartford Coffee Company, on the corner of Roger and Hartford, located in the Tower Grove area. We meet in the front dining area.

Why: Because there’s much to talk about and much to be done!

How to Use Pinterest to Promote Human Rights

pinterest human rightsPinterest is the fourth largest traffic source and the third largest social network in the world, meaning that it’s a great to post content and to promote human rights in an effective, visual way. Pinning your favorite human rights pictures and infographics on the topics you’re most passionate about is a great way to start your board (or several). However, with a little more strategy, you can use Pinterest as an excellent way to promote your causes. Here’s how to use Pinterest to promote human rights.

Have More than Just the Big Issue Stuff

Yes, it’s important to pin powerful photos of the issues, whether you’re pinning the photos of victims, of war zones, or of those on the ground working to make a difference. But, pin something other than the big issues once in a while because the big stuff can be overwhelming. Part of building awareness for human rights violations is to make people feel they can do something about the issue, instead of just know about it. By pinning photos of your events, pictures that lead to petitions, and pictures relevant to success stories and to organizations that are making a difference, your Pinterest content accomplishes much more than making others feel sad or guilty about the issue.

Pin Vertically When Possible

Because of Pinterest’s layout, portrait pictures attract more eyes than landscape pictures. Another trick to attract more attention is to use dark borders or to add text to what you pin (and I mean text on the photo, not just text in the description). The latter characteristics are features of a meme photo, and I’m not suggesting that you turn human rights into a series of memes, but that style of presentation can attract attention even if your photos aren’t a meme or are covering a serious topic.

Consider the Interests of Your Audience

Many who are interested in human rights are also interested in other things, and people interested in other things or specific political issues are also interested in human rights. Pinterest just added a new “interests” feature to make it easier for users to find pins relevant to your interests. When promoting human rights, you can take advantage of this feature by creating boards and pinning pins on “interests” other than human rights. For example, if you know eating organic or eating healthy is an interest among those you know that like human rights (that’s at least the case with our chapter), then creating a board with organic recipes or pictures of healthy foods isn’t a bad idea. It engages those who may like human rights but haven’t heard you or your issue yet.

Pin as Well as Repin

Most pins on Pinterest are actually repins. Although repinning is important to this network because it showcases the great work of others and encourages them to follow you on Pinterest, creating original pins is critical to positioning yourself as the go-to person on human rights or your specific human rights issue. Granted, repinning helps to do that also, but you don’t want everything you pin to be repins.

Related Links:

How to Use Twitter to Promote Human Rights

4 Things That Need to Be On Your Amnesty Chapter Website

How to Use Blogging to Promote Human Rights