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A Website Is Tracking American Women Who Died in Childbirth

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There’s no sugarcoating it: American women die way, way, too often in childbirth, or from childbirth-related complications. The truth is scary, sad, depressing and steeped in misogyny and racism.

NPR and ProPublica published a massive feature on the subject earlier this year, while The Nation and Vice focused on racism’s place in this deadly reality.

Now, again in collaboration with NPR, ProPublica has launched a stunning, chilling project, “Lost Mothers,” to name and track the hundreds of women who died last year for childbirth-related reasons, writing that these deaths are often “invisible.”

They have chosen to try to collect all the faces and stories behind America’s dismal maternal mortality rate, from 2016. As they explained:

“The inability, or unwillingness, of states and the federal government to track maternal deaths has been called “an international embarrassment.” To help fill this gap, ProPublica and NPR have spent the last few months searching social media and other sources for mothers who died, trying to understand what happened to them and why. So far, we’ve identified 120 pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths for 2016 out of an estimated U.S. total of 700 to 900. Together these women form a picture of maternal mortality that is more racially, economically, geographically and medically diverse than many people might expect. Their ages ranged from 16 to 43; their causes of death, from hemorrhage to infection, complications of pre-existing medical conditions, and suicide.”

The team behind this website are asking for readers who know of more stories like this to contact them.

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