RESIST: Black Women and Health Care

“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel.”- Linda Villarosa writing for New York Times Magazine
When Serena Williams gave birth last year, she endured the experience of health care for black women in America. After undergoing a c-section and suddenly short of breath, she expressed concern to her medical team. Despite having a history of blood clots, doctors dismissed her questions and were then unprepared to treat her for a pulmonary embolism, one of the most common side effects of a c-section. Williams’ experience exemplifies overwhelming research asserting women of color, especially black women, experience a vastly different American health care system than their white counterparts.

Currently, black infants are twice as likely to die and black women are three to four times as likely to die a pregnancy related death. More profoundly, factors like education and wealth have little influence; a black woman with a college degree is more likely to lose a baby than a white woman with less than 8th grade education.
Why? The research points to a correlation between institutional structures and medical consequences: the psychological affects of systemic and institutional racism is triggering physical conditions (such as hypertension and pre-eclampsia) for black women.

Additionally, a pervasive racial bias within healthcare affects black women with even the greatest of advantages (wealth, high education, etc.). Noting this alarming research, the UN ordered the United States to “eliminate racial disparities in the field of sexual and reproductive health” in 2014. Yet to date, very few states have taken action.
We strongly stand with institutions like Planned Parenthood and support politicians like NYC Governor Andrew Cuomo who announced several initiatives in the last week aimed at reducing infant death. We urge all to contact your Elected Officials and reject any healthcare reform that does not provide method and funding to rectify these disparities. - Maureen Post

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Photo Credit : National Library of Medicine