The ProPublica and NPR series “Lost Mothers” won the Peabody Award in the radio/podcast category. The collaboration illuminated the maternal mortality crisis in the United States. Despite spending more per capita on health care than any other country, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality and severe morbidity in the affluent world.
ProPublica reporters Nina Martin, Adriana Gallardo and Annie Waldman, along with NPR special correspondent Renee Montagne, explored the crisis through radio pieces, articles and a first-of-its-kind database of women who died from pregnancy-related complications.
The multimedia project included intimate narratives of mothers perishing for want of the most basic care; data analysis that established the greater risks faced by African-American mothers who are three to four times more likely to die than white mothers; and a contrast between the British approach that has reduced rates of maternal mortality and the American health care system’s abdication of its responsibility to track deaths and learn from the mistakes that caused them.
The series has had significant impact. Citing “Lost Mothers,” state and local lawmakers around the country have adopted a flurry of bills aimed at reforming how maternal deaths are identified and investigated. Indiana and Oregon passed laws creating maternal mortality review committees to scrutinize deaths and near-deaths among expectant and new mothers, and to make policy recommendations to improve maternal health. Similar bills are pending in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey.
See a list of all this year’s Peabody Award winners here.