Alissa Legacy

Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Political Science

First Advisor

Lauren Foley

Second Advisor

Denise Keele

Third Advisor

Karl Hokenmaier


This thesis explored and analyzed maternal mortality in southwest Michigan and in the United States. Since many studies show a correlational link between implicit racial bias in the United States, this research expected similar outcomes in southwest Michigan and looked to the current literature to guide area specific research.

This was a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews and focused on common attitudes. These perspectives came from interviews of local professionals involved in maternal healthcare or healthcare delivery. The local participants were asked questions regarding maternal mortality in the United States as it compared to other developed countries. The participants were also asked their perspectives on maternal mortality in southwest Michigan. Interviews were the primary source of information regarding maternal care and maternal mortality in southwest Michigan.

The goal of this thesis project was to discover if there are any common themes locally, nationally, and internationally. Specifically, the research questions focused around these general prompts: 1) Are there specific culprits contributing to the maternal mortality epidemic in the United States? 2) How is southwest Michigan helping or hurting the national statistics? 3) How do we stop mothers from dying unnecessary deaths? 4) How do social disparities influence healthcare outcomes?

This project sought to look at social disparities in regards to how they influence health outcomes. What do professionals think about social disparities in regards to the statistics on race-based disparities in the U.S.? The United States is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth, and yet it does not have to be.

This project specifically sought to explore implicit racial bias, socioeconomic class disparities, and implicit gender bias. This project also looked at the legal environment surrounding medical malpractice, access to insurance, and education levels of women in relation to their maternal outcome likelihoods. This project intended to add to the dialogue surrounding the topic of maternal mortality and prompt further meaningful discussion.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted