Women's Health


The first inkling came in 2001. Isabelle Horon, Dr.PH, and her colleague, Diana Cheng, M.D., of the Maryland Department of Health, were concerned that even after huge advances in prenatal care, too many American women were still dying during pregnancy or shortly after birth. So they launched a study to explore all occurrences of death during pregnancy, not just those directly related to obstetric complications— which was how the National Center for Health Statistics defined “maternal death” at the time.

The further they probed, the more they checked and rechecked, the more undeniable it became: These women weren’t dying only of traditional causes like thromboembolism; they were being killed. Shot. Strangled. Beaten to death. By husbands, boyfriends, lovers. By the fathers of their unborn children.

Horon and Cheng’s findings, published in the March 21, 2001, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, revealed that homicide was in fact the leading cause of mortality during pregnancy and the first postpartum year, accounting for one out of five deaths. Simultaneously, a study in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health found that an astounding 43 percent of maternal deaths over eight years in Washington, D.C., were homicides. Compounding the problem: Nearly half of those cases were not included in D.C.’s Center for Health Statistics. In essence, they were invisible. The D.C. study’s chilling title was “Hidden from View.”

The medical community was stunned. How could this be happening under everyone’s radar? More important, why was it happening at all? But the numbers didn’t generate headlines until nearly two years later, when a pregnant Laci Peterson disappeared on Christmas Eve 2002. Her body was found the following April in San Francisco Bay, and her husband, Scott, was arrested for murdering her and their unborn son, Conner. The cold-blooded. Experts who were carrying out research spurred by the 2001 findings knew better.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Women's Health

Women's Health4 min read
Back To The (badass) Basics
Aside from being a fab abs exercise, this one teaches you how to engage and activate your butt. Connecting with your booty is super important for many other lower-body movements, like squats or deadlifts. HOW TO Lie on back with knees bent, feet flat
Women's Health3 min readPsychology
I always put out a top-notch product if I wait until the last minute and feel the time crunch. The stress of deadlines motivates me. Ever utter similar lines while doing everything but finishing the work you speak of? This is one of the biggest—but o
Women's Health1 min read
Baking Soda Toothpaste: The Clean Your Mouth Has Been Waiting For
ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda Toothpastes remove up to 5X more cavity-causing plaque in hard-to-reach places than a non-Baking Soda toothpaste.Wouldn’t you want a vacuum that removed 5X more dust? Blasting your teeth with UV rays as your mouth is held op