When we talk about health care for women, we seem to focus an inordinate amount of time, both politically and certainly in the media, on the topic of birth control for those women. Often we focus on abortion, or on various states' attempts to make abortion more difficult or even impossible for women. We spend far less time talking about the babies that are actually born, and rather little time talking about how those babies are born. But new data released by the World Health Organization from a three-year report comparing premature birthrates in 184 countries brings a different topic to the standard baby conversation in the United States. Donald G. McNeil Jr. writes in The New York Times on this new "trend," which is that the U.S. is now on par with developing countries in terms of preterm babies born, "worse than any western European country and considerably worse than Japan or the Scandinavian countries."
Why? It's a combination of things as disparate as the pieces that recently ran in The Times about, contrastingly, the celebrity baby bump business and the criminalization of bad moms, and it has to do with the ever-growing divide between the wealthy and middle class, and the poor. On one hand, women over 35 who have had in vitro and go on to deliver twins or triplets, and on the other, pregnant teens. In the case of the former, often the early births are on purpose, with the babies delivered by C-section to avoid the risks of having multiple full-term babies vaginally. For the pregnant teens, on the other hand, it's a different story.