To The Editor of the New York Times:
RE: “America’s Shocking Maternal Deaths”
Your editorial passed over the real reason behind the unconscionable rise in deaths among child-bearing women in the United States — American Obstetric practices. As a Board Certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist, I see first hand that pregnant women are subjected to multiple unscientific physician and hospital protocols — inductions prior to 42 completed weeks, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, refusal of food and drink in labor, drugs and procedures to speed up labor, Cesarean Delivery for “non reassuring fetal tracings” and labor that “takes too long,” and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section policies that discourage or deny women the right to a vaginal birth. All of this, forced on women despite copious scientific evidence that it does not help babies but harms their mothers, has led to an insane Cesarean Section rate AND the increasing maternal death rate and “near misses” (i.e. women that don’t die but come close). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and their peer review journal, Obstetrics & Gynecology, initially denied the rise, then blamed it on women (too old, too fat, too unreasonable), and now blame it on regressive politics and preexisting conditions such as heart disease and the opioid epidemic. As your editorial points out, Great Britain has a maternal mortality rate that is a fraction of ours in the United States. They have the same problems with diet, obesity and opioids, but they do not have a 25% induction rate or a 40% Cesarean Section rate. If you travel 20 minutes north of my city, Buffalo, into Canada, you will find a population with all the ills cited as justification of the terrible US maternal mortality rate — obesity, pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, drug use and a diverse population — but their maternal mortality rate is substantially lower than ours. Their induction and Cesarean Section rate is also far less than ours. No amount of hand-wringing by ACOG changes this reality. Until the real culprits are identified and Obstetric practice changed to benefit women and babies rather than physicians and hospitals, the maternal mortality rate will continue to climb.
Katharine Morrison, MD, FACOG
2500 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14214
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