Disparities in Maternal Health

The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality and morbidity rates among industrialized nations. Even more troublingly, the mortality and severe morbidity rates are rising, with approximately 17.4 people dying during or just after pregnancy per 100,000 live births in 2017 and approximatley 50,000 pregnant patients facing severe morbidity in 2014. As with several health outcomes data, there are significant disparities: Black women are at a particularly high risk of maternal mortality, with a rate of 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births. Public health agencies, experts, and advocates have responded by launching numerous initiatives incorporating multi-disciplinary approaches to address opportunity reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

Family planning providers and administrators have a key role to play in addressing the epidemic, from addressing inadequacies and discrimination in health care settings to educating patients about needed prenatal and postnatal care. Check out the resources below to learn more, or contact one of the organizations leading the way to reduce overall maternal morbidity and mortality and the disparities between groups. 

Key Organizations & Initiatives

These entities provide ongoing education, resources, and support to address maternal mortality and morbidity. 

Happening Now 

  • Advocates push for Medicaid coverage up to 12 months postpartum. 
  • In January 2019 the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology published guidance on interpregnancy care developed by the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the National Associaiton of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. 


The following resources may be helpful as you address maternal morbidity and mortality in your health center and community.

  NFPRHA's Position

Health Care Reform

The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) believes that women should have access to all of the health services they need to have the healthiest pregnancies possible. All women should have access to culturally responsive preconception care, and should be able to discuss their pregnancy intentions with their health care provider. High-quality preconception and interconception care should include the information women need to keep themselves healthy before, during and after their pregnancies, as well as health services that promote their physical and mental health, including family planning and sexual health. 

National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association

1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-293-3114  |  info@nfprha.org

© 2021 National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association