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Romper interviewed Nadereh Pourat, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, and Rebekah Israel Cross, a health policy research scholar at the Fielding School’s Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health, about proposals to address the maternal mortality rate crisis in the United States, which is acute among Black mothers.
Kira Johnson, a Black mother, died from complications of a C-section in 2016. Her husband, Charles, who was recently awarded $1 million by the hospital, says doctors ignored him for hours as he begged them to check the blood in her catheter. "When they took Kira back into surgery and he opened her up, she had three-and-a-half liters of blood in her abdomen from where she'd been allowed to bleed internally for almost 10 hours. And, her heart stopped immediately," Charles told CNN.
Kira became one of the hundreds of Black mothers who die during or within one year after childbirth in the U.S. each year. The statistics are often repeated: Black mothers account for 40% of maternal deaths despite making up about 13% of the female population in the U.S. at any given time. Their deaths are largely preventable.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden plans to address this crisis by requiring hospitals nationwide to use California’s maternal care toolkits, which aim to prevent delayed treatment or misdiagnosis of birth complications. For a presidential nominee to push a policy on Black maternal health while campaigning for a general election is new and welcome. It reflects the work of generations of Black women voters, finally recognized as the Democrats' most dependable voting bloc, as well as that of the activists and journalists who have worked for years to draw attention to the systemic racism that pervades American health care right now, today.