Preventing the Preventable: A Review of Maternal Mortality Rates in South Carolina

South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate is the nation’s eighth highest rate, coming in at 25.5 per 100,000 live births. Compared to national statistics, racial disparities are also more drastic in the state. For every fourteen White women who die from childbirth-related causes, approximately forty-six Black women die from those same causes. Despite legislative action prompting increased data collection and planning, South Carolina’s rates have increased, which raises the question: what can be done to save new mothers?

To decrease South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate, this Note argues that policy changes must increase the efficiency of data collection, expand access to care, and implement and enforce requirements for the care provided to South Carolina mothers. Part II describes legislative and regulatory efforts to institute efficient processes for the collection of reliable data on maternal mortality in the United States. Part III discusses the specific issues facing South Carolina and examines possible causes for the state’s high rates. Part IV explores policies that have worked elsewhere and recommends policies that South Carolina could adopt to shrink racial disparities and decrease its maternal mortality rate. Finally, Part V concludes by reiterating the overarching theme in reducing maternal morality: prevent the preventable by being prepared for the worst-case scenario.