For Black Maternal Health Week, We Demand Reproductive Justice – – NOW!

This week we will observe the start of Black Maternal Health Week, a week of activism, education, and community building. Here’s a good overview by Black Mamas Matter Alliance:

Held annually on April 11-17th, BMHW is a week-long campaign founded and led by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance to build awareness, activism, and community-building to amplify the voices, perspectives, and lived experiences of Black Mamas and birthing people. The week is intentionally held during National Minority Health Month and begins on April 11th annually to join dozens of global organizations in marking this day as International Day for Maternal Health and Rights – an opportunity to advocate for the elimination of maternal mortality globally. The activities and conversations hosted throughout the week intentionally center the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements.

This year, the official theme for Black Maternal Health Week is “Our Bodies STILL Belong to Us: Reproductive Justice NOW!”

Black women, who tend to have worse health care and economic conditions than white women, accounted for about 80 percent of maternal deaths associated with cardiac conditions, which is the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths at more than 33 percent.

Black women experience maternal mortality rates three to four times higher than white women, with Indigenous women also experiencing disproportionately high rates. What’s more, Black pregnant workers, Latinx, and immigrant women are far more likely to be working in physically demanding jobs where reasonable workplace accommodations are essential to their health and safety.

During Black Maternal Health Week, we are calling attention to the appalling failure of our society to address the fact that the U.S has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed nations, is the only one of the top 11 developed countries not to guarantee access to maternity care home visits or paid parental leave, and denies women access to supportive social welfare and family support programs.

Here are some key Black Maternal Health Facts, as compiled by Black Mamas Matter Alliance. For the full Black Maternal Health Week toolkit, click here.

  • In 2021, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.6 times the rate for non-Hispanic White women.
  • Among the ten states with the largest non-Hispanic Black population in 2020, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, most have implemented severe restrictions on abortion access and happens to be states that have some of the highest rates of disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes.
  • Black women have a higher incidence rate of cervical cancer compared to women of other racial/ethnic groups, and Black women are more likely to die from cervical cancer than other women in the United States.
  • In 2022, the rate of preterm birth among Black women (14.6%) was about 50 percent higher than the rate of preterm birth among white or Hispanic women (9.4% and 10.1% respectively).
  • Research indicates that 22% of Black women receive lower quality of care than white women and are subject to discrimination in the healthcare field

The systemic racism that rips apart so many of our most important and cherished institutions, from democracy to health care, must be eradicated. Black Maternal Health Week reminds us that we must make it a national priority to fix our broken maternal health care system on the national level and in the states—NOW!



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