In this series,¬†The more you know, the better you do, our¬†summer intern Amber Byrd will look at different concepts that impact the fight for reproductive freedom in Ohio. First off, we’re going to look at a topic near and dear to our mission: Maternal Mortality.

What is it?

Maternal Mortality can be defined as the death of a woman or persons during pregnancy or within one year of pregnancy from complications.

In the United States, approximately 700 women die yearly from pregnancy or delivery complications.

Who does it affect?

There is a racial and ethnic disparity in pregnancy related mortality. Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die during childbirth or from pregnancy related causes.

Black women with at least a college education are 5.2 times more likely to suffer pregnancy related mortality (CDC, 2019).

What causes it?

Inadequate healthcare services and lack of healthcare options.

Discrimination in the healthcare field. For example, in 2018, 22% of Black women reported discrimination by a doctor or healthcare provider because of their race and or socioeconomic status.

Black women experience weathering which is the idea that Black women’s bodies age more rapidly than White women because they experience discrimination, racism and even socioeconomic disadvantages. This can lead to complications during pregnancy such as preeclampsia, hemorrhaging, and premature birth.

Black women often report pregnancy related issues however, their concerns and experiences are often ignored or invalidated. This leads to complications during or after childbirth and often results in death.

Why this matters?

Every human has a birth parent.

Reducing maternal mortality results in better outcomes for us as a society and helps to eliminate racial disparities and socioeconomic disparities.

The U.S. has an advanced medical system and modern medicine makes maternal mortality very preventable.
When we examine maternal mortality rates it highlights the gross racial and socioeconomic inequalities that exist within the United States.

What we can do about it

Believe Black women. Protect Black women.

Educate those in our communities about maternal mortality.

Broadcast the voices of those affected by sharing their stories.

Propose and provide testimony for legislation that will protect those most vulnerable such as expanding healthcare coverage.

Advocate for more funding for hospitals in underfunded areas.

Dismantle systemic inequalities and eliminate systemic discrimination in healthcare and the medical field.


About the author

My name is Amber Byrd. I am a second-year doctoral student studying Sociology (Medical Sociology and Social Inequality) at Case Western Reserve University. I am a summer intern at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. I will be presenting a series of information about reproductive justice and issues facing the Black body. In the age of Black Lives Matter, it is important to understand the lasting effects of systemic racism and how it pertains to reproductive justice and reproductive health. I will present this information through a series of fact sheets that will be published once a week. I hope you will join me in learning more about this extremely important topic. It is important that we all work together to create a more equitable future for the current and future generations.

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