Pregnant women or those who have recently given birth are more likely to be murdered in the US than die of pregnancy complications, experts say.
Researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital made the statement in a letter published today in the BMJ.
They cited 2019 research from May of this year to support their statement, which found homicide rates doubled the leading causes of pregnancy complications. These were bleeding, sepsis and blood pressure disorders.
Researchers attributed the findings to intimate partner violence, with one in three women experiencing physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.
Pregnant women are significantly more likely to be killed by their partners than to die from common pregnancy complications such as sepsis or bleeding.
Most homicides of pregnant women by their partners are committed with firearms. The new study reported that gun violence has become a health emergency for pregnant women in the United States, as the number of firearm homicides has increased.
Black women were at significantly higher risk of being murdered by their partners than Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women.
“Given the rising number of firearm homicides in the United States, gun violence has become a health emergency for pregnant women,” the report’s authors said.
What does this report add?
Scientists found that pregnant women are more prone to homicide than death due to common pregnancy complications
The vast majority of intimate partner deaths in the United States have been caused by firearms
Black women were at much higher risk of being murdered by their partners than Hispanic and white women
Firearm partner violence was more common in states with the most liberal gun laws
Ending male violence against women, including gun violence, is an urgent priority for the health and safety of women everywhere
In the decade after 2008, gun-related intimate partner homicides declined overall, although gun-related homicides increased by 15 percent over the period.
The US leads the developed world when it comes to maternal mortality.
Federal tracking for 2020 found the maternal mortality rate for 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to a rate of 20.1 in 2019.
Infections or sepsis are also a major cause of maternal death. From 2013 to 2016, 23 percent of all maternal deaths were related to sepsis.
Hypertension, which is very common during pregnancy, can be serious.
Federal tracking shows that nearly 32 percent of maternal deaths that occurred during hospitalization between 2017 and 2019 had hypertensive illness.
And in the US from 2016 to 2018, at least 11 percent of maternal deaths were caused by bleeding.
In tracking deaths among pregnant women in the United States, the CDC does not classify homicide, accidents, or suicide as causes of “maternal mortality.”
People with better access to firearms are more likely to use them against their partners, the report said.
The risk of intimate partner violence typically increases in areas where guns are readily available.
The federal government has recently responded to renewed calls from the public for gun control measures following last spring’s devastating school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
President Joe Biden signed the law into law in June. It included a wide range of policy initiatives designed to keep people safe and provide vital support to states and local governments working to curb gun violence.
Still, it fell far short of what Democrats have advocated, like universal background checks and a ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons.
The new law also took steps to reduce intimate partner violence.
In a major policy change, the new law closed the legal “friend” loophole. Federal law had already banned convicted domestic abusers from owning firearms, but that only applied to spouses, not dating partners.
Opponents on the right in Congress, including Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert, have already introduced legislation to repeal the gun violence package.
Boebert, a staunch opponent of gun control measures, said the Gun Violence Act “trespasses on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and will have no significant impact on ending mass shootings and deterring gun violence.”