Political Animal


April 14, 2012 9:43 AM The Real War on Moms Has a Mortality Rate

By Sara Mead

Despite what Dave Weigel says, the fates seem determined to drag the Ann Romney/Hilary Rosen/war on women/war on moms debate into the weekend, so I guess I might as well, too. One response to the War on Moms claims—well-made by Salon’s Irin Carmon here—is that, Mommy Wars rhetoric, aside, the Republican policy agenda actually offers bubkes in the way of practical support to moms (and dads, who, let’s not forget, are parents too) struggling to raise their kids up right. I’d concur and add:

One of the distasteful things about the tendency to label all sorts of debates or initiatives as “wars” is that in real wars, people die. But the reality is that a shockingly high number of American moms are dying for preventable reasons. The U.S. Maternal Mortality Ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is shockingly high, well above the average for the developed world, and higher than virtually all of Western Europe as well as some countries in Asia and the Middle East. Even more troubling, U.S. maternal mortality has increased in the last two decades, and is now more than twice as high as it was in the late 1980s. The Affordable Care Act included provisions designed to help stop this scary trend—not just by expanding health care access (many maternal deaths could be prevented with proper care)—but also through the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, created as part of ACA, which provides nurses and social workers to work with high-risk moms, starting before they give birth, to help them have healthy pregnancies and deliveries and support their babies’ health and development after birth.The program is modeled after programs, such as the Nurse Family Partnership that have a strong track record of improving maternal and child outcomes, preventing abuse and neglect, increasing fathers’ involvement in their kids’ lives, improving kids’ school performance, reducing crime, and saving the taxpayers a boatload of money over the long term. But all that could go the way of the dodo, if ACA is struck down or repealed (and some of the right wing fear-mongering about this program must be seen to be believed).

For all we hear about “family friendly” conservatives promoting traditional families to keep us from going the way of G-d-forsaken Europe, the reality is that the U.S. actually has a higher percentage of infants and toddlers in childcare (as opposed to home with mom) than all the OECD countries except Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden (and we’re closer to Sweden than we are to the OECD average). That’s the direct result of policy choices we’ve made, including the total absence of paid parental leave (for which we stand alone among developed countries, in a small and shrinking field that includes Papau New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho). And even as the recession has increased the number of moms of very young children in the workforce, states have cut funding for child care and made it harder to get in other ways as well.

Of course, I suppose the Randians out there would say that a lack of parental leave or child support actually benefits moms in the long run by creating a disincentive for women to have children out of wedlock or that they “can’t afford” (and just typing that makes me cringe). But, really, how’s that working out for ya?


  • Hedda Peraz on April 14, 2012 9:57 AM:

    How many of those DAFs (Dead American Females) are registered Republicans?
    (If a Democrat falls in the forest, does anybody care?)

  • t-rex on April 14, 2012 10:17 AM:

    Are there no convents? Are there no Magdalene laundries?

  • SadOldVet on April 14, 2012 10:49 AM:

    A very well crafted and written indictment of the ameriKKKan for profit health care system.

    Thanks Sara.

  • esaud on April 14, 2012 10:56 AM:

    Very good point(s). At this point, our horrible media are so wired into what Republicans talk about that actual facts have become dispensible.

    That Republicans can dominate the airwaves with silly nonsense shows the message control they have over ABC, CBS, etc. Isn't there a single assignment editor or news producer there that can spot a phoney story when he sees one? Why do they go there? (I suppose the short answer is $$$$).

  • Jimo on April 14, 2012 11:15 AM:

    I just watched a German news program a week ago about how the conservative coalition government was split over child care.

    The Conservative Democratic Party wanted budget money going to pay for daycare centers for working women. CDP = about as conservative as John McCain or Papa Bush.

    The Conservative Social Union (only found in Catholic Bavaria) wanted budget money gong to pay mothers for staying home to care for children. CSU = to the right of Pat Buchanan.

    Tiny Free Democratic Party coalition member said paying anyone just subsidized wealthier people and isn't government's responsibility. FDP = what our GOP sometimes wishes it was until it remembers that it must police bedrooms everywhere.

    Bottom line: real conservatives adopt conservative policies since conservatism is all about a culture of life, requiring that children, mothers (even fathers) should be made better where government can do so.

  • SYSPROG on April 14, 2012 11:35 AM:

    What I am interested in, is WHY are we having the 'Mommy Wars' with ANN ROMNEY as the spokesperson? WHY is it when RICH women 'stay at home' it's a 'choice' and the Democrats are REALLY against 'mommies' but when the poor don't HAVE a choice to be 'stay at home' moms they are SLACKERS??? Which was really what Hilary Rosen's comment was all about...

  • mudwall jackson on April 14, 2012 11:39 AM:

    SadOldVet on April 14, 2012 10:49 AM:

    A very well crafted and written indictment of the ameriKKKan for profit health care system.

    Thanks Sara.

    ameriKKKan? really? a bizarre comment. something you'd expect from michelle 'the government's going to tell you how many kids you can have' bachmann or sarah 'death panels' palin. i've seen a lot of doctors and nurses wearing green caps and face masks, many in white coats. but i've yet to see anyone running around a hospital wearing a white hood. haven't even seen one hanging on a hook. not even in an administrator's office. i've seen a few crosses but never any that were burning.

    my wife works in a l&d unit of a hospital that handles a high percentage of indigent patients. there are prenatal care programs out there for the poor. yet either through ignorance -- they don't know about what's available or they think pregnancy is a walk in the park -- too many women show up at the door in labor without ever having been seen by a doctor at any time during their pregnancy. the consequences of course can be deadly for the mother, the baby or both. let's hope aca withstands the scrutiny of the supremes and the outreach programs cut into this terrible number.

    btw, my wife and her colleagues, nurses, doctors, techs etc. take seriously their responsibility to provide the best care they can to every patient who shows up at their doors, rich or poor, paying or nonpaying. it's not an academic exercise for them, or making throwaway comments on a blog. it's real life. which is another reason why i resent your ignorant comment, sadoldvet.

  • Blue Girl on April 14, 2012 11:56 AM:

    Three cheers for what Mudwall Jackson said. I spent 22 years in healthcare, DoD, VA, public like the place your wife works and a private, for profit system (HCA).

    That comment you just dismantled was god-damned offensive to every dedicated professional I have ever worked with and I applaud you for standing up for those of us who just do the fucking job, to the best of our abilities, within the confines of some really fucked-up policies that we had nothing to do with putting in place.

  • SYSPROG on April 14, 2012 11:57 AM:

    mudwall jackson ...although I applaud your desire to defend your wife and her colleagues, I don't believe this issue is about whether our health professionals CARE or DO THE WORK. I do quite a bit of volunteer work at the hospitals and I agree with you that these people CARE about healthcare and not the economic status of the patients. However, THIS discussion is about legilatures and corporate CEOs that are only in it for the money and wouldn't know what to do for a patient if they were dying in front of them. But THEY have decided to 'get between you and your doctor' with punitive laws and only use that mantra when trying to attract voters...

  • SadOldVet on April 14, 2012 12:17 PM:

    I am old enough to remember when the bulk of the health care system in the United States was not for profit. Now, the not for profit portion of the health care system is virtually non-existent.

    In the United States, we have three health care systems.

    The health care system that I receive my care through 'resembles' the British model where the government owns the facilities and employees the health care professionals. It is the VA and I applaud the dedicated, professional persons working there. The overhead for this health care system is 2-3%.

    The second health care system is Medicare/Medicaid where the government dispurses payments to a privatized care delivery system. The overhead for this health care system is 6-8%.

    The third health care system is the totally for profit system. With the highly profitable insurance companies, the highly paid medical practioners, and the highly paid administrative portions of the system, the overhead is somewhere north of 30%.

    You have a screw loose if you believe that the for profit health care delivery system in the United States is some kind of role model; unless you believe that the health statistics provided by Sara (and more which point to the poor care of our citizens) are something good.

    None of this demeans the good intentions of the many caring persons working within the for profit system. Just don't tell me that the insurance companies and the medical doctors on the take from the pharmaceutical corporations are noble.

  • anon's honey on April 14, 2012 12:29 PM:

    Anyone notice that those masses who have been defending Ann Romney for never having to work make it seem as if serfs and peasants are strangely coming to the defense of silk stocking highborn royals. It is so weird. And meanwhile, it is the goal of Ro-money to give yet more cash to the uber-wealthy and cut vital social programs for those defending them.

  • Sammy on April 14, 2012 1:49 PM:

    Hillary Rosen makes a true statement about the cluelessness of a millionare woman that guaranteed 24 hour news coverage villificating the truth teller.

    Racist assaults on Michelle Obama began when there were just rumors that Senator Obama would declare his presidential candidacy back in 2007 and continue to this day.

    From taken out of context remarks, racist cartoons and e-mails, there has been a continous attack of racist caricatures, slurs, digs, vicious and defamatory statements directed against Mrs. Obama by right wing talk show hosts, blogs, websites, teabaggers and politicians.

    The usual cannard of uppity, or angry black woman, or chewbacca to name a few.

    Then we have WI congressman Jim Sensenbrenner who called Mrs. Obama a hypocrite for leading the Let’s Move campaign because she supposedly has a “large posterior.”

    And speaker of the KS state house Mike O’Neal, who forwarded a vicious cartoon likening Mrs. Obama to the Grinch and calling her “Mrs. YoMama.”

    The deafening silence from the excuses across the main stream media, from both republican and Democratic politicians and from anti-Obama so-called liberals and progressives is significant and telling.

    Why is that?

  • David Martin on April 14, 2012 1:54 PM:

    Florida has already rejected any federal funding connected to the Affordable Care Act. Programs for assisting at-risk mothers were especially disliked because they intrude into private family matters.

  • Anonymous on April 14, 2012 3:00 PM:

    Joan Walsh had a good point: stay at home moms are revered by the Rs unless they and their children are poor. Then, too bad. The Rs are too happy to de-fund programs that aid those women and children and are also too happy to demonize those moms for being leeches on society, lazy, having too many kids, etc.

    Joan's article is below the linked one by Carmon on Salon.

  • Paul D Lane on April 14, 2012 3:15 PM:

    Re: The one factor being left out of the Ann Romney controversy is: Just how much she was involved running her household and raising her children.

    In a wealthy household there would be maids, possibly a cook, nannies caring for the children, etc etc.

    Thus, did/does Ann Romney do the cooking and washing the dishes after serving a family meal... did Ann Romney change the babies dirty diapers...do the family wash and iron the clothes, etc etc as is the case in the average family household?

    If she was/is the traditional homemaker doing the above on a daily basis... then I applaud her. But, I doubt if this is/was the case.

    Thus there is this missing link in the tame corporate media's defense of Ann Romney. Was/is she a model home making spouse or just the manager of a household staff which performed the never ending daily chores?

  • Texas Aggie on April 14, 2012 5:23 PM:

    I like Sara. She does good work. I also like some of the other people who come on board on weekends.

  • Texas Aggie on April 14, 2012 6:33 PM:

    The link to the right wing hysteria about visiting nurses and the government infiltrating your home leads you to a story about chuck norris. The comments tell you all you need to know about mr. norris and the reasons for his mental derangements, but I saw another comment on chuck that also says something about his character. Cory Booker is the mayor of Newark, NJ, and has a record of personally helping people from shoveling snow off their sidewalks to recently carrying a neighbor woman from a burning house. He denies that he's a hero. Other people beg to differ.

    "When Chuck Norris has nightmares, Cory Booker turns on the light & sits with him until he falls back."

  • joanneinDenver on April 14, 2012 6:48 PM:

    Well. Where is the Democrat's Bill of Rights for Working Moms? Where are the Congressional and Senate Moms lined up on the capital steps, waiving a pledge to support and expand the Bill of Rights for Working Moms?

    Here are the rights that should be in such a pledge
    1) Rights in the Medical Family Leave Act
    2) Rights to Pregnancy non-discrimination
    3) Rights to pay equity
    4) Non-discrimination in jobs - hiring, firing, and promotion
    5) Non-discrimination in health insurance
    6) Rights to a harassment free work environment
    7) Rights to safe, affordable day care

    Ask Anne Romney to sign the pledge.

  • Patango on April 14, 2012 7:29 PM:

    ""mudwall jackson on April 14, 2012 11:39 AM:

    my wife works in a l&d unit of a hospital that handles a high percentage of indigent patients. there are prenatal care programs out there for the poor. yet either through ignorance -- they don't know about what's available or they think pregnancy is a walk in the park -- too many women show up at the door in labor without ever having been seen by a doctor at any time during their pregnancy. the consequences of course can be deadly for the mother, the baby or both. let's hope aca withstands the scrutiny of the supremes and the outreach programs cut into this terrible number.""

    Your the one talking like Bachman , you imagine if people were able to go see a doc while pregnant , they just choose not to , then you imply health care is readily available to all women , which is just horse shit , as Sara has laid out so well , you also imply it is imposable to separate what a nurse does , from how messed up our HC system is, which is classic Bachman head up the assness

    By coincidence my friend got out of the hospital yesterday ,medicade covered him but one must go to the approved hospital 50 miles away , he had complications when he got home and called an ambulance , the ambulance tech's flat out told him the 2 hospitals would not accept NONCOVERAGE people ..

    Hospitals have figured out how and when to turn people away ,and they have had a hand in creating americas messed up HC system , if you imagine they are all holier than tho , go to the nearest one and try and get treatment with no coverage , the stats in the OP are not the result of woman being to lazy to get up and go to the doc michelle

  • Doug on April 14, 2012 7:48 PM:

    "I'm old enough to remember when the bulk of the health care system in the United States was not for profit(italics in original)." SadOldVet @ 12:17 PM.

    Well, there's part of your problem right there, SOV. Your memory's playing tricks on you.
    A "health care system" didn't EXIST when I was growing up 50 years ago. There WERE doctors and nurses and hospitals certainly, and even some basic health isurance was offered. And those doctors, nurses and hospitals certainly expected to be, and WERE, paid. Usually directly by the patients.
    The idea that anyone involved in the medical profession in the 1950/60s did so fully expecting to go into debt and die a pauper is laughable and I'm presuming NOT what you meant. However, I also presume that every member of the medical profession in those glorious, bygone days, including adjuncts such as medical secretaries and the like, fully expected to make a good living out of their profession. Do you know what's needed to make that good living a reality? PROFIT!
    Besides the simple passage of time (it's a b*tch, ain't it?), the entire medical profession has chamged radically. A few anti-biotics, surgery or bed rest. THAT'S what "medicine" basically consisted of in the 1950s. OF COURSE it was a smaller part of most peoples' lives - when that's all that can done, there's no need for a "Health Care Industry"! There's plenty to complain about concerning today's ACTUAL HCIs' faults without pretending there once was some Golden Age of "non-profit" medical care.
    Talk about comparing apples and oranges...

  • Anonymous on April 14, 2012 7:50 PM:

    I suppose the Randians out there would say that a lack of parental leave or child support actually benefits moms in the long run by creating a disincentive to have ... that they “can’t afford”

    I suppose restricting birth control while at the same time diminishing maternity care makes some sort of long term sense in the Randian paradigm, but I am not getting it.

  • anon's honey can't move past it on April 14, 2012 8:02 PM:

    It is a shame that Sandra Fluke had to endure such vile and vulgar statements from Rush Limbaugh as she exercised her rights to free speech on matters of contraception.
    Oh the names she was called for days on end-- prostitute, send Rush the sex videos, she's having so much sex, etc. Just brutal, he was, for days.

    And contrast that all that was said by Hilary Rosen is that >>Ann never worked a day in her life

    What a manufactured controversy.

    Let us not forget that Republicans, including BOTH Mitt and Ann Romney, were pretty much silent on criticizing Rush Limbaugh's horrid barrage and slander.
    Meanwhile Hilary Rosen was thoroughly insulted---even by representatives of the Catholic Church.

  • mudwall jackson on April 14, 2012 8:03 PM:


    words have consequences. there are many faults with our health care system but the kkk remark from you was repugnant to say the least whether that was aimed at providers or the financial end of the system (insurance companies).


    please explain to me how painting the entire health care system as racist helps illuminate the problem of maternal mortality. the health care system as whole has more than its share of weaknesses but a lack of money or programs for prenatal care isn't one of them. the problem is one of outreach, which as sara notes, is addressed by aca. throwing money or policies at the problem won't solve it unless they're thrown in the right direction.

  • c00p on April 14, 2012 9:56 PM:

    Your post points out yet again what is patently obvious to most observers: the US is astonishingly backward by almost every standard that measures "quality of life". What do we excel at? Producing embarrassing amounts of money for remarkably few people.

  • bob h on April 15, 2012 6:40 AM:

    Since it is all about Ann these days, I would like someone to ask her how fair is it for people like her to have the finest medical care (to conquer MS and cancer) while all these deficiencies for others are allowed to exist, and how she can countenance the repeal of Federal RomneyCare.

  • anon's honey on April 15, 2012 8:57 AM:

    I do think the conversation of how lavishly well-off and aristocratic the Romneys seem, as in Old England, prior to the American Revolution, is reinforced by "Ann not having to work" talk as it conjures up ANN image of nannies, indulgent daily leisure, opulent country clubs, Rolling Rock Private Club steeplechases with wildly expensive horses. Would love to know if Mitt belonged to clubs that restricted membership by women.

    And more hypocrisy from Mitt Romney:
    It was Republicans that insisted in 1996 that women on welfare get out of the home and into the workplace--Mitt's on video this just in January 2012, giving his view that women receiving welfare need to get out to work, he wanted to increase the work requirement for women on welfare--and absoultely said he wanted them to "have the dignity of work" Even if they had very young children and deal with day care, they needed to know the dignity of work.
    Note he would have added legislation to MAKE WOMEN ON WELFARE ENTER THE WORKPLACE:
    The dignity of work for disadvantaged women, but for the Romenys it is A-OK for his wealthy wife not to enter the workforce.
    Chris Hayes brought this up on his program on msnbc--the Romney compaign did not reply to an email Hayes sent to that campaign.

  • tinfoil hattie on April 16, 2012 7:29 PM:

    We know Republicans favor policies that keep women, including mothers, trapped under the patriarchal bootheel.

    So, tell me: What substantive moves ha e Demovrats made to support women and mothers? Other than threatenin, "Roe! Roe! Roe!" any time we suggest that all this hagiography around motherhood is so much bullshit, I mean.

  • Anonymous on April 16, 2012 11:43 PM:

    About the women's choice to stay at home or work.
    didn't sarah palin insulted obama for his choice of work as well?
    as a teacher and community organizer?

    why is it okay for people to publicly insult the president's career choice as not having "real job experiences" but it's not okay for people to insult a woman's choice?
    should it be just as offensive or just as okay?

    i'm a woman. if women are to be equal, we need to treat men with the same respect. don't "protect" women just because of the gender.
    what's improper to women should be just as improper to men.

    do not tell us to be ladylike and don't tell men to "man up" or "have balls" when in disagreements.

    We should not insult men for being stay home dads, or choosing whatever jobs he chooses if we women want respect in our private choices.

    in a similar sense, we should not tell working poor or anyone to work hard or blame themselves for not being rich. or get a job to the unemployed.