In September, 19-year-old Ayaanah Gibson bled to death in her Benedict College dorm room after delivering a stillborn child. Gibson was within walking distance of the campus health center and a few miles from multiple health facilities in Columbia, South Carolina.
Gibson, a first-year student from Sacramento, had survived a battle with brain cancer to die alone a month into her college career. Her death is a cautionary tale about how seriously the United States needs to take its maternal mortality problem and, secondly, how barriers to adolescent sexual and reproductive health care can turn a common event—an apparent unplanned pregnancy—into a preventable tragedy.
What kept Ayaanah Gibson from getting life-saving care for herself and her child? We can only speculate. It’s unclear that Gibson was aware she was pregnant, whether she was in denial or concealing her condition for some reason.