Monday, December 6, 2021

Letting Myself Think About It

I saw this graphic shared a couple of times on Facebook, and I wondered if the stats were true:

So I looked them up. I don't know what year is being referred to here, but I came up with numbers for 2018 and 2019, which have the best complete numbers. They appear to be comparable to what's shown in the graphic and are more statistically reliable than this graphic, since I could come up with some per-100,000 numbers, too. (Note: I didn't try to look at injuries.)

2018 2019
Childbirth deaths 658 754
Police deaths from all work-related causes* 183 139
Police deaths from gunshots 53 1
Childbirth death risk per 100K live births, total 17.4 20.1
Black childbirth death risk per 100K live births** 37.1 44
Police total death risk per 100,000 police 27 20
Police gunshot death risk per 100,000 police 7.7 7.3

I've been stewing over many aspects of last week's Supreme Court arguments in the Mississippi anti-abortion law case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Amy Coney Barrett's blithe statement that someone can just carry a pregnancy to term and then drop their baby off at a fire station, no questions asked no problem, was among the lowest moments I've experienced in modern political life. Which is saying something. This woman is on the Supreme Court! (Though of course we all know the illegitimate way she got there).

These stats give one reason why she is wrong. If a person chooses to have a baby, including the choice to give the baby up for adoption, that's theirs to do and fine if it's not coerced. But for the state to dictate that they must take on substantially more physical risk than police do, who are paid to perform a job, is obscene. 

And that's without even getting into the obvious argument about the definition of liberty (the only principle that's mentioned in both the Declaration of Independence and the preamble of the Constitution!) as intrinsically including the control of one's own body, as evidenced by the fact that no one in this country can be forced to donate mere blood or their organs after death to save a born person's life.

There's so much to say about this that I am agog to put it into words. Many others already have. A few articles:

I was adopted. I know the trauma it can inflict by Elizabeth Spiers.

Amy Coney Barrett's adoption myths: "They're co-opting our lives and our stories" by Irin Carmon. 

The Roe v Wade death watch by Doug Muder at the Weekly Sift. Really great reminders of what Roe v. Wade actually said, what the founders thought about unenumerated rights, and more. 

Before I read Muder's post, I had seen this letter to the editor in the Star Tribune, which makes one of the points (about establishment of religion) that Muder includes:

My Twitter feed was very full on this topic also, so in the interest of not overwhelming my month-end post on a single issue, here are some of those. I'm sure some others will surface to be included at the end of the month. The oldest of these appeared during the Court's arguments:

Only the US forces you to give birth while forcing you to pay tens of thousands of dollars to give birth while not letting you have time off to give birth.
Susan of Texas

GOP: We are the pro-life party!
So—free pre-natal care?
Extend child tax credit?
Paid family leave?
Universal pre-K?
Gun reform to stop school shootings?
How are you pro-life?Thinking face
GOP: We force 11-yr-old rape victims to give birth
Qasim Rashid, Esq.

I worked my ass off in a [Minnesota] bill last year to give adult adoptees access to their own birth records. It was killed by a powerful Minnesota pro life org. They don’t care about our lives, we adoptable babies are commodities. Our humanity ends when papers are signed.
Salena Koster

Both times I gave birth I developed preeclampsia, this time so bad and so dangerous I had to be induced at 34 weeks. Both times I could have died. My life matters too.
Emily C. Singer @CahnEmily

In regard to the Supreme Court, what is there to say? As long as women’s rights can be decided by a set of nine political appointees, we are not free. It is poor women, and/or women of color and/or rural women who will suffer the most if Roe is overturned.
roxane gay 

Just a reminder that the risk of death from pregnancy and childbirth is 14x higher than that with abortion. Not to mention the risk of losing jobs and housing, facing domestic violence, and other health problems if women are forced to remain pregnant. This is a deadly narrative.
Dr. Shannon Withycombe

Forcing people to remain pregnant and give birth is state violence.
Tina Vasquez

It is no more acceptable to force someone to go through a pregnancy than to push someone out of an airplane, and by the way, SKYDIVING IS SAFER THAN PREGNANCY.
Naomi Kritzer

If Amy Coney Barrett’s musing was an actual reflection of her genuine thought process, we should all be concerned about the very sheltered and warped life she has led.
LAK Boston

It really breaks my freaking heart how people like Coney-Barrett seem to think of birth mothers as vessels to deliver babies to nice Christian husbands and wives. As if placing your child comes at no cost or trauma. Like it’s a supply chain or something.
Salena Koster

Next June, at least 5 evil men and women, unelected, three appointed by a blistering cruel failure of an illicitly elected man, two alleged serial sexual predators, all devotees of a fanatical form of religion focused on the oppression of women, will eliminate Roe. Maybe 6.
David M. Perry @Lollardfish

Forced pregnancy and birth in a country without paid leave, without universal healthcare access, and without universal childcare is just straight up sadism.
Buffy the Psych Prof @DrPsyBuffy

abortion bans make life more difficult for people who WANT to be pregnant, too. criminalizing miscarriage, making care for traumatic pregnancy more difficult to access—these are very real effects of anti-abortion legislation
kellen heniford

Every single person who feels a pregnant person should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term should be forced to donate a kidney.
Jennifer Gunter @DrJenGunter

giving birth is major surgery and the six of these justices are pretending the severity of pregnancy is equivalent to getting a haircut
josie duffy rice

Wild that some people seem to simultaneously think a woman should be forced to incubate a fetus for 9 months at the same time believing that being forced to wear a mask for 9 minutes is a breach of their fundamental human rights

let's face it, there's nothing indecorous about having your body ravaged, your life endangered, tearing stem to stern, bleeding for weeks, and lifelong incontinence or uterine prolapse being dismissed by society as "just one of those things." adoption exists after all! NBD. so-called "freedom" fetishists treat these things as trivial, and that's why their pretensions to anything like philosophical or moral seriousness are—and must be treated as—garbage.
Lili Loofbourow

I know I also saw posts about how abortion restrictions (let alone bans) complicate medical care for miscarriages and other conditions, and that's another extremely under-covered aspect of all this. As with most things related to women's health, it's not taken seriously (or even known to exist) by the media or politicians.


* Police are much more likely to die from a combination of other causes than gunshots: among the others, the most likely is illness (not specified), then car crashes, then being hit by a vehicle. I don't think illness is what most people think of when they think of the risk of being a police officer. In 2018, it was the highest single cause of police officer death.
** The statistical term is non-Hispanic Black women.

Sources for my data:

U.S. maternal mortality, 2018

U.S. maternal mortality, 2019

U.S. police deaths, 2018 and 2019
Number of U.S. law enforcement officers total, used to compute the per 100,000 stats

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