Letters to the Editor

Congressional politics may harm new mothers

If there is one basic fact that unites all of humankind, it is that every one of us came from a mother’s womb. Much as they seem to forget, this truth also applies to Rep. Rod Blum, of Iowa, who thinks that a 62 year-old man should not have to pay for maternity care, and Rep. Scott Perry, of Pennsylvania, who, after already having had two children, said that he should not have to “pay for things that I’m never going to use.”

It also applies to Miami’s own representatives, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart. They all voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with its maternity protections, earlier this month.

U.S. lawmakers are on a mission to reduce access to reproductive healthcare and maternity care. We are killing our mothers.

While in every other developed country maternal mortality has decreased during the past 15 years, it has increased in the United States by about a third, to a whopping 26.4 per 100,000 live births. By comparison, the rate in Canada is just over one quarter of that (7.4).

After surviving childbirth, mothers in the United States receive virtually no official support. We are the only developed nation that does not provide paid maternity leave. Once a mother has made it past childbirth recovery, she faces astronomical childcare costs: Full-time care is more than the average cost of in-state college tuition.

A glimmer of hope in this public assault on motherhood is that average Americans appear to be more humane and reasonable. In a recent Kaiser Health survey, 86 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats believe that health plans should cover maternity care.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now handed over the task of repealing the Affordable Care Act to an all-male working group. Will these 13 men also see maternity care as an optional luxury?

What do Florida’s senators think? Where does Sen. Marco Rubio stand on maternity care?

Merike Blofield, associate professor, political science, University of Miami, Coral Gables