Black Women’s Maternal Mortality Rates at Ridiculous High

Black Women’s Maternal Mortality Rates at Ridiculous High

The rate at which Black women are dying while trying to have children now rivals those in developing nations.

Published August 9, 2011

One of the metrics people use to gauge the success of a nation is reproductive health, which includes both infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates. In many places in America, reproductive health is great, the kind you’d expect from the richest nation in the world (downgraded credit rating aside). In some communities, however, reproductive health is shamefully low. One of those communities, as you might imagine, is the African-American community.


According to a new report from the California Department of Public Health, Black women had a maternal mortality rate of 46 for every 100,000 live births from 2006 to 2008. Though 46 out of 100,000 may not seem like a lot, consider that those numbers for Asian, white, and Latino women range between 9 and 13 per 100,000. Where infant mortality is concerned, Black infants die at more than 1.5 times the rate of white infants. These differences are staggering, and, in the opinion of experts, they’re also unacceptable.


International rights organization Amnesty International has called high maternal mortality rates “a continuous violation of women's human rights.” That Black women have maternal mortality rates that rival those of developing nations is shameful, and totally unnecessary in an America that, even in tough times, is still tremendously wealthy.


Though our nation is currently struggling with one of the worst financial crises in modern history, it’s important to recognize that Black women and infants are dying unnecessarily because of poverty and poor medical care. When the GOP budget cuts come down the pipeline in the coming months, and they’re coming to the tune of more than $1 trillion, one would hope these statistics are considered.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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