Once apon a time, there was a land where little girls grew into young women, and some of those women ended up having babies. This land became very prosperous many years ago, and for a long time, year after year, each woman’s care and health was even better than the year previous – before, during, and after the birth of her baby. It was very good.
Then, something changed in the land. One year, more mothers died from complications due to pregnancy than the year before; one year does not a trend make, however. The land continued to be prosperous, and much was good.
Such were things, that it seemed as if a quarter of a century had passed in the blink of an eye. Mothers who had enjoyed excellent care during the birth of their daughters were looking forward to the birth of their grandbabies. Grandmothers eagerly awaited their greatgrandchildren, remembering fondly the community of support who helped them navigate pregnancy, birth, and raising their generations of girls. But, something was wrong. The rate at which mothers died from complications in pregnancy and childbirth was up by more than half than it had been, 25 years ago. “By more than half?” Mothers tremoulously asked, gripping their newly pregnant daughters’ fingers, shifting uneasily.
Something was wrong. The mothers and grandmothers knew it; the pregnant women were tired and worried. The land was prosperous still; things had changed, but many were still wealthy, plenty of people were able to travel and enjoy hobbies, others could choose to work or not work – such was the luxury of this land.
Something was wrong. The pregnant women were gasping for air. Their hearts were failing. Their blood failed them. The food they had been given turned to ashes in their mouths. Some of them, it was whispered, didn’t want to be pregnant. They had never, it was said, wanted to be pregnant. They died anyway.
Something was wrong. A wealthy woman pined for years for a baby, and finally gave birth to a beautiful child, only to die a few days later. Down the lane, and it should be known, across the tracks, six of her fellow mothers did the same — longed for a baby so much it was a taste, and their answered prayer turned deadly. These women, however, were not wealthy. They were not part of the priviledged class that the wealthy woman was. And they died for it, the same as her.
Some of the people in the land noticed this, and realized that if things didn’t change — if more, and better care wasn’t made available to all women — more women would die. More mothers and grandmothers wouldn’t see their daughters deliver; the chain would break. Women who had grown up enjoying wonderful care in the form of a tight community and accessible care would find their own daughters scattered and unable to find the chain of mothers, which stretches back to our very origins. The broken chain began stranding women at their most vulnerable in healthcare deserts.
When people in this land said that if only one wealthy woman dies, it is a tragedy, but death does come for us all, and it is unavoidable. One woman out of 100,00; that is not so terrible, surely? Things were still prosperous, after all. “But wait,” said the mothers, tears streaming down their cheeks, cradling their daughters’ cooling bodies, “all of my daughters have died, all of them. It isn’t one wealthy woman, I have lost six of my daughters,” “I have lost 20,” another says, hollowly. “Our land,” the people in charge replied, “Is prosperous. It is better for everyone if we focus on the prosperity rather than this.” And they turned away from the mothers and grandmothers. And the women who were not wealthy, who were not white, are continuing to die unseen. And now they will die faster.