Press Release
New Analysis: Community Initiatives Are Key to Ending the Black Maternal Health Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 8, 2023 – A new study from the National Partnership for Women & Families finds that Black-led community initiatives may be vital to solving the Black maternal health crisis. The analysis Black Women’s Maternal Health Solutions: A Multifaceted Approach to Addressing Persistent and Dire Health Inequities found that health inequities are worsening when it comes to maternal health outcomes for Black women, and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to increased Black maternal health disparities. As Black women were more likely to be essential workers in low-paying jobs, they had increased risk of exposure to COVID and economic insecurity due to job loss and lack of paid leave when sick. Researchers found that Black birthing people were three times more likely than white parents to have a COVID-attributable death. Report findings strongly underline that decision-makers must work with, listen to and support Black-led birth justice and community-based organizations to address the growing crisis.

“The shocking and persistent disparities in Black maternal health remind us that our health care system is riddled with systemic racial bias,” said Jocelyn Frye, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. “This is a national emergency. We need health care that not only serves the needs of Black communities, but also lifts up diverse and culturally inclusive providers and their approaches to addressing the unique perspectives and challenges of these communities. Policymakers can make lasting change in our country’s maternal health delivery system by heeding the lessons of our report and engaging with Black-led community initiatives in their work to end the Black maternal health crisis.”

“We are finding that it is increasingly more dangerous to give birth in a Black body in the US,” said Venicia Gray, Senior Manager, Maternal and Infant Health Justice for the National Partnership for Women & Families. “If we are truly serious about improving Black maternal health, decision-makers must listen to, work with, sustainably fund and support or cede power to Black-led birth justice and community-based organizations. Black maternal health is more than a crisis. Black maternal health is also resistance, resilience, and joy, which have sparked multiple Black-led movements that incorporate community-driven solutions.”

According to the report, Black women continue to report mistreatment, disrespect, or neglect by health care providers in maternity care settings:

  • Black women have a 53% increased risk of dying in hospital settings during childbirth, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
  • Despite expressing a preference for racial concordance in providers, Black OBGYNs and midwives only comprise 11% and 6.7% of the workforce, respectively. When patients share the same race as their providers, mortality rates for Black newborns were reduced by 58%.
  • Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.
  • Black women are significantly more likely to be harmed by abortion restrictions, which create barriers to accessible and timely care and could result in forced pregnancy.

The National Partnership for Women & Families has been a national leader in the fight for maternal and reproductive health care and health equity. The Partnership’s work is grounded in a commitment to ensuring that everyone has access to the full range of health care on the entire scope of a person and family’s health and well-being, including economic well-being – especially for those disadvantaged by racism and other structural inequities.

The full report can be found here.

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About the National Partnership for Women & Families

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family.

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