By Patrick McCarthy
The USA ranks 51st in the World in infant mortality rate with 6.1 babies per 1,000.
The USA ranks 39th in the World in maternal mortality rate with 16.7 mothers per 100,000 live births.
In the United States a baby is nearly three times as likely to die during its first year as one born in Finland or Japan, and about twice as likely to die before his first birthday as one in Spain or South Korea.
Social class (That elephant in the living room nobody wants to talk about on liberal facebook Pages) is a major factor in infant mortality, both historically and today. Who'da Thunk?
Over the period 1912 and 1915, the newly founded Children's Bureau* conducted a revolutionary study of infant mortality across eight US cities and nearly 23,000 live births. They discovered that lower incomes tend to correlate with higher infant mortality. If the father had no income, the rate of infant mortality was 357% more than that for the highest income earners. As well, differences between races were apparent during this time period. African-American mothers experienced an infant mortality at a rate 44% higher than average. But again this ties into poverty. Since African Americans at this time, were less likely, due to institutionalized racism, to be in gainful employment than white people.
In fact despite the multitude of medical advances that have done so much since the Children's Bureau study of 1912-1915, to decrease the rate of infant mortality, social class still dictates which medical services are available to an individual, with various levels within the socioeconomic hierarchy receiving a decreasing quality of medical services the lower down the pecking order one goes.
In lay mans terms: If you are a pro-life person who believes that the free market system should be applied to healthcare you are a baby killer...a mommy killer also. But then again if it is an unmarried mother, your "unique" sense of right and wrong dictates that she deserved whatever was coming to her. Either way your "pro-family" card is revoked until you can get to grips with the murderous irony of your moral posturing.
The United States, (the wealthiest nation to still lack a comprehensive public option in healthcare) has actually seen a dichotomization from technological advances. Leaving those living at or below the poverty line unable to afford medically advanced resources. Which leads to an increased chance of infant mortality.
In the US economic expenditures on labor, delivery and neonatal care are relatively high (by which I mean astronomical), when compared to other less wealthy Western nations, which all have a comprehensive public option. In the US a conventional birth costs on average $9,775, with a C-section costing $15,041. Preterm births in the US have been estimated to cost as much as $51,600 per child.
This is insane and it is beginning to show. In 2013 a US study was published that showed that 50% of babies born in the US in 2011 were born under Medicaid That is to say that 1 in 2 children were born to parents who could not afford to have them under the current privatized model of US healthcare. And as the gap between the rich and the poor increases so too will that number. As will the US infant mortality and maternal mortality rate. How long until things get as bad as the were in 1912-1915?
By most accounts of the origins of the Children's Bureau point to a 1903 meeting between two women, the labor-unionist Lillian Wald and the socialist Florence Kelley both of whom were members of the radical Settlement Movement and were later co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and were involved with the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) which in 1905 agreed to make the establishment of a federal children's bureau its primary legislative goal. It took them 7 years of lobbying but in 1912 the United States Children's Bureau was created. Initially more powerful then it is today with its mandate being to:
"... investigate and report to the Department of Commerce and Labor upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people, and shall especially investigate the questions of infant mortality, the birth-rate, orphanage, juvenile courts, parental desertion, dangerous occupations, accidents and diseases of children, employment, and legislation affecting children in the several states and territories."
In 1946 the Children's Bureau was folded into the Social Security Administration (SSA) by Harry (the most overrated President ever) Truman, as part of his massive postwar reorganization of the federal government that was designed to role back the reforms of New Deal and render FDR's progressive vision for the postwar United States a pipe dream.
During this reshuffle the Children's Bureau which was so instrumental in the passage of such important pieces of legislation as the Sheppard–Towner Act (1921), the "Aid to Dependent Children" section of the Social Security Act (1935) and Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) which was the final nail in the coffin of the blight of child labor in the United States, found itself stripped of its authority over all labor-related programs.
Today the Children's Bureau is a federal agency under the authority of United States Department of Health and Human Services, a shadow of its former self, it deals only with improving child abuse prevention, foster care, and adoption.
Patrick McCarthy is a native of Dublin City, Ireland and a committed Christian socialist and co-founder of the Facebook community Page 'Progressive Christian Democratic Socialism'
His hero's are: Saint Francis of Assisi (1182–1226), founder of the mendicant Order of Friars Minor. The Reverend John Ball (1338–1381), a radical cleric who was put to death for his role in the Peasants Revolt of 1381
James Connolly (1868 – 1916), Irish republican, socialist political theorist, trade-union organizer, co-founder of the worlds first trade-union defense militia and signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The injuries he sustained during a failed uprising of Irish nationalists were so severe that he had to be strapped to a chair so he could be executed by a British firing squad. His last words were: "I will say a prayer for all brave men who do their duty. Forgive them for they know not what they do."
Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897–1980), founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.
Servant of God Óscar Romero (1917–1980), former Archbishop of San Salvador who was gunned down by CIA backed right wing death squads while serving mass, for speaking truth to power. His last words were: "We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us."
Tony Benn (1925–2014), Christian socialist, and first President of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) also famous for his 'Five Questions for people with Power': “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? How can we get rid of you?”
Chris Hedges (b.1956), author, activist, and plaintiff in the case Hedges v. Obama which contends that Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 allows the U.S. military the ability to imprison indefinitely journalists, activists and human-rights workers based on vague allegations.
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