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The Right to Adequate Postpartum Health Care

June 1, 2022

To be clear: everyone deserves accessible, quality healthcare, free of charge. “Everyone,” of course, includes those who have pregnancy- and birth-related health needs, from sonograms to difficulty with feeding to postpartum depression.

States across the U.S. have Medicaid programs to address those needs. People who might not otherwise qualify for full-scope Medicaid might still qualify for pregnancy-related Medicaid. These specialized Medicaid programs cover individuals during and after pregnancy. Unsurprisingly, they differ state-by-state.

Sarah Smith recently brought attention to Mississippi’s program, which does “the least to provide health care coverage to low-income people who have given birth.” Its program does the least because it terminates coverage a mere 60 days post-birth. Put simply, Mississippi abandons people who are experiencing poverty, just weeks after they’ve experienced birth.

Smith points to harrowing statistics. Studies show that people racked up 81% of their postpartum expenses between 60 days and a year after delivery, and that in Mississippi, 37% of pregnancy-related deaths between 2013 and 2016 occurred over six weeks postpartum. Sure, Mississippi’s extension of coverage for 60 days can help some folks access critical care. But it then leaves them without any continuation of care.

People in Mississippi deserve better. People across the U.S. deserve better. We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation support those advocating for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi and beyond because we know that our fundamental human right to sexual freedom is tied to our right to healthcare.


Photo of a patient and a doctor

Photo of a doctor facing a patient. We see the back of the doctor's head and they are wearing a stethoscope. The patient has dark hair and wears it in a bun at the top of their head. They are looking at the doctor. (Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection)

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