There is a war on black maternal health and the mortality rates of Black mothers. The evidence is striking. 243%
Black women are 243% more likely to die from child-birth complications, compared to our white counterparts. Yup, you read that right. Two Hundred and Forty Three Percent. Despite your socioeconomic status or level of education, you, as a Black Woman, are likely to die from what should be one of the most beautiful moments of your life.
Why? Why is the death rate so high? I mean, it’s 2019. We have the technology/experts to successfully perform procedures and address a vast range of issues along the way. So, why?
The answer is simple, yet, frightening. Our voices are oftentimes marginalized, silenced, and dismissed. Our concerns are invalidated and as a result, our lives are put at risk. Evidence shows that the United States has higher rates of pregnancy-related illnesses and death than compared to 25-years ago. This is a public health concern and as a nation, we have failed. It’s time to hold our healthcare professionals and policy makers accountable.
On June of 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed “revisions” to regulations concerning the Affordable Care Act. These revisions? Well, they basically make healthcare discrimination legal. The proposed revisions would do the following:
Eliminate the definition of gender identity and sex sterotyping as a form of sex-based discrimination, allowing healthcare providers to refuse to serve individuals who are transgender or do not conform to traditional sex sterotypes. Like… wtf?
Allow healthcare providers to invoke blanket abortion and religious objection. This means that healthcare providers can refuse, deny, discourage patients in need of an abortion if it violates the provider’s religious beliefs. This could put patients in life-threatening situations and completely limits their pool of providers. Crazy, right?
Eliminate the prohibition against discrimination based on an individuals assocation/relationship with someone else based on their race, color, sex, age, or disability. So for example, a provider could refuse to see a white patient because they have a biracial child and vice versa. CRAZY, RIGHT?
These are only a FEW of the proposed changes but I think it puts things into perspective. It’s 2019 and there is still an undeniable attack on the bodies of Black Women. Since our launch in January, 2CS has been invested in the health and wellbeing of Black Women. A few months ago, we provided Black women and WoC a space to come together to discuss the epidemic at 2CS Talks: 243%. The room consisted of Black women from various walks of life: a pediatrician, a doula, teachers, students, mothers, and mental health specialists. In the time that we shared, we provided a diverse perspective on the status of our nation’s healthcare system. In our self-created safe space, women opened up about the challenges they faced throughout their pregnancy. A lot of the challenges were sourced from a lack of support and resources and we what it came down to was an overbearing fear of speaking up, intimidation, and trusting physicians over ourselves because “they know what’s best.”
The best part of of 2CS Talks 243%, was that by learning from one another, we challenged each other to become our biggest advocate. Because the truth is, we know our bodies better than anyone ever could. Of course, we should develop trusting relationships with our physicians BUT we must challenge ourselves to speak up if something doesn’t feel right or if we require further understanding. We must become our own advocates, do our own research, and demand our voices to be heard.
In efforts to showcase the stories of our Columbus mothers, we produced and released “A 2CS Mini-Documentary: Black Motherhood" Rachel, Autumn, Kai, and Brandy fearlessly and honestly shared their journeys to the world. They spoke on conquering miscarriages, breaking generational curses, the good and bad of their clinical experiences, and so much more. In doing so, these ladies allowed their stories to become a tool for the world to learn from. 2CS is immensely honored to put together such a delicate and important project.
By providing a space for conversation and a visual for the worlds fingertips, we grant Black Women/PoC an opportunity to be heard. We are committed to the well-being of Black women and WoC because we matter. Here are some quick yet vital actions that you can take:
Discuss the issue at hand. With such a high maternal mortality rate in our community, it is vital that we stay informed and increase awareness on the topic.
Demand to be heard. If you are uncomfortable, uncertain, or require more guidance, let it be known. You are your own advocate so do your own research to expand your knowledge on your options.
Explore your options. You have the opportunity to customize your pregnancy experience. Find a provider you trust, speak with a dulah, or seek guidance from a midwife. Whatever route you choose, it’s yours so be sure it’s one that is completely transparent and trusting.
Fall on your community. Learn from the experiences of others around you. What worked for them? What didn’t work? No question is too silly and perspective is vital!
Reach out to city, state, and federal officials to demand changes in policy that stop healthcare discrimination and reflect patient-centered healthcare.