No one should ever have to worry about whether or not they will survive childbirth. Unfortunately, this is a reality that many pregnant people face.
Pregnant people in the United States are more likely to die from childbirth or pregnancy-related causes compared to pregnant people in other high-income countries. When we begin to compare the rate of pregnancy-related deaths between racial groups, the image worsens. A black person is 3-4 times more likely than a white person to die as a result of childbirth-related causes. An individual’s socioeconomic status or education level does not help reduce this disparity. Instead, this disparity is primarily driven by sexism and racism. These stark differences in the rates of pregnancy-related mortality are an injustice.
Members of the federal government have taken notice of the United States’ high pregnancy-related mortality rate and filled bills to specifically address racial disparities. In 2018, New York City established a 5 year initiative to reduce pregnancy-related deaths and life-threatening complications among women of color.
Massachusetts took its first step in 1997 towards broadly improving pregnancy-related outcomes and preventing maternal mortality with the creation of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Initiative. After more than two decades, it is time we go further today and address the racial disparities in pregnancy-related mortality.
How We Fight Back
An Act to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health (S.1334, H.1949) would create a Commission that would make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to address this injustice. The Commission would consist of experts in the field of maternal health, elected officials, members of racial justice organizations, healthcare providers, those who have lost an immediate family member to maternal death, and others.