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A few follow-ups on recent writing, to close the week.
1) Claire Sudduth has a moving and upsetting piece about the deteriorating state of pre and perinatal care in Texas, which leads the nation in maternity ward closures, an especially serious problem in its rural areas. Sudduth notes that Texas is a particularly acute reflection of larger national trends:
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate in cities is about 18 deaths per 100,000 births. In rural counties, that figure is 29, roughly on par with Syria (my bold). Babies are more likely to die, too. Insufficient prenatal care is linked to a greater likelihood of preterm birth, the leading cause of infant death in the US. Because most rural hospitals in America don’t have a working maternity ward, women travel longer distances to give birth, putting them at greater risk of delivering on the side of the highway or at home without a medical professional. The CDC estimates that infant mortality rates are 20% higher in rural areas than in large urban ones.
Sudduth writes that while, forty years ago, the US stacked up reasonably well among its wealthy peers, now “the US is the most dangerous wealthy country in which to give birth.” The news out of Kansas this week was heartening, of course. But Republican-controlled states, if they haven’t already, will remain undeterred in passing sweeping abortion bans that will only make pregnancy more dangerous and deadly than it already is. And remember these are the states that tend to be both more rural and far more miserly in extending health care coverage to the less well off.
It’s impossible to overstate how unconscionable this vicious circle of cruelty is.
2)A Bill Russell follow up. In 1979, Russell wrote a book with the future Pulitzer Prize winning author Taylor Branch (Branch is a UNC alum, btw - go Heels!), titled Second Wind. This week, Twitter coughed up this remarkable passage from the book (sorry for the wonky formatting):
Leaving aside the dated language, I find this to be a remarkable passage - a depth of sensitivity and self-awareness about an issue that, in the 1970s, put Russell way ahead of his time. Just one more piece of evidence about the remarkable individual he was.
And, while we’re on the subject, I can’t help boasting here. Dave Zirin, the great sportswriter, kindly tweeted out my tribute to Russell. Among those who retweeted it:
Karen Russell, as it happens, is Bill’s daughter. :)
3)On Wednesday, I spoke with Ian Masters, longtime host of KPFK’s Background Briefing, about my piece “We Are the Majority.”
You can listen here.
I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend.
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