The United States of America has the highest mortality rate in the world when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, but among our population, Black women die the most.
In fact, according to ProPublica and NPR, the inequality in the American healthcare system shows how medical practitioners continue to fail Black women, before, during and after childbirth.
According to research conducted by the news outlets, Black women are by far more likely to die from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth than White women, regardless of income, geographic location or health. Damn. It is as if nothing can save us.
“According to the CDC, Black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of White mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health,” ProPublica states. “Put another way, a Black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a White woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. In a national study of five medical complications that are common causes of maternal death and injury, Black women were two to three times more likely to die than White women who had the same condition. … Black expectant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates.”
Researchers cited a number of factors that contribute to this growing epidemic. Black women are more likely to be victims of chronic conditions. Black women are also more likely to give birth in high-risk hospitals because of segregation, the report claims. And due to the residual effects of racism, they’re more likely to come from low-income families who either do not have healthcare or who struggle to obtain it.
But the one factor, according to researchers, that hits Black women of all incomes, geographical locations and diagnoses: unconscious bias.
“In the more than 200 stories of African-American mothers that ProPublica and NPR have collected over the past year,” wrote ProPublica, “the feeling of being devalued and disrespected by medical providers was a constant theme. … Over and over, Black women told of medical providers who equated being African-American with being poor, uneducated, noncompliant and unworthy.”
Read the full story at Propublica.