How to Combat the Public Health Crisis of Black Maternal Mortality

September 19, 2023

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to save their mothers’ lives.

// By Wendy Margolin //

wendy-margolin-headshotThe U.S. is the only high-resource country in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate. As shameful as that is, it gets worse. One group of women — Black women — are 2.6 times more likely to die from pregnancy than White women, according to CDC. In a 2017 study, Black women were five times more likely to die from postpartum cardiomyopathy, preeclampsia, and eclampsia than white women.

Olympic track medalist Tori Bowie died of eclampsia during childbirth at age 32. Her death on May 2 occurred alone in her home during labor. The cause of her death was announced to the media in mid-June.

Take a moment to sit with this. A family focused on building was instead burying. Every maternal death is tragic. That 80 percent of these deaths are preventable compounds the horror.

Bowie made headlines because she’s a decorated athlete. But the truth is that she’s no different from the Black women who die from maternal mortality every year in the U.S.

Last month we looked at opportunities for addressing health disparities that affect women overall. In this issue, we focus on Black maternal health, and how individuals, communities, health care organizations, and policymakers are igniting a national movement in support of reproductive justice.

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