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Republicans who inaccurately blame high maternal mortality rates on "obesity" should not be regulating women's healthcare

November 3, 2022
Democratic Newsroom

COLUMBUS – Today, ranking member of the Ohio House Health Committee Rep. Beth Liston (D-Dublin) issued a statement condemning inaccurate and harmful comments regarding maternal mortality made by Republican Rep. Bill Dean (R-Xenia). In an interview with Dayton Daily News, Rep. Dean, who is not a physician and has no medical background, said it is often the lifestyle of the person who is pregnant that leads to maternal deaths, specifically blaming “obese people.” Rep. Dean then added, “Pregnancy is a natural thing that women are made for. That’s the way God made them. The myth is that it is dangerous; it’s no more dangerous than living every day.” 

“Pregnancy is a joyful time for many people, but there is no doubt that it is also painful, difficult and dangerous, especially when women are unable to access the healthcare they need to keep them safe if complications occur,” said Rep. Liston, a physician. “These comments are completely inaccurate, insensitive and inappropriate to the millions of women who become pregnant every year. This is exactly why women, their doctors, and their families should be the ones making these intimate healthcare decisions, not extreme partisan politicians.”

In 2020, for every 100,000 live births, approximately 24 maternal deaths occurred. The maternal mortality rate increases substantially for Black women, who die giving birth at a rate three times more than white women. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed nations. 

In June 2022, immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, Ohio enacted its 6-week abortion ban, endangering the health and safety of millions of women overnight. While a Hamilton County judge indefinitely blocked the 6-week abortion ban in October, Statehouse Republicans, including Rep. Dean, have made it clear they plan to ban abortion completely with no exceptions by the end of this year.