The term “desert” calls to mind geographic isolation — a place far removed from society and economic infrastructure. And when it comes to maternity care deserts in rural populations, that image is not far removed from the reality.
It’s no secret that distance and socio-economic risk contribute to the high rate of maternal deaths in the US. Many women lack immediate access to necessary care, and don’t have the means or the time to travel to distant providers. This problem is pervasive in rural areas — but it doesn’t stop there. Many of the country’s maternity care deserts are not geographically isolated at all, but exist in the heart of its most densely populated areas.