Advocates Celebrate Black Maternal Health Week

Advocates across the Commonwealth are celebrating Black Maternal Health Week from April 11-17. We have a Black maternal mortality crisis in our country, and Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. This week is a time to celebrate Black mothers and bring awareness to the Black maternal mortality crisis. 

“Black Women are the most unprotected women in America, but also the most called upon to address issues,” Kenda Sutton El, Executive Director of Birth in Color RVA, said. “Black Maternal Health Week is not only about raising awareness, but providing solutions and creating programs to help reduce the disparities of Black women. How can the US focus on early childhood education without addressing maternal health? That’s just it you can’t!”

“All of us, regardless of race, income, gender identity, age, or immigration status have the right to choose how and when to become a parent. But right now, racism and white supremacy culture are making it more difficult for Black women to have babies safely in our country,” Ashleigh Crocker, Communications Director at Progress Virginia, said. “Black women are discriminated against by their doctors, have a more difficult time accessing abortion and birth control, and are dying at unprecedented rates when they have babies. We need to come together across our differences to ensure that everyone who has a baby, an abortion, or takes birth control has access to the health care they need when they need it.”

“Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia stands with Black women, birth justice organizations, and maternal health experts sounding the alarm about improving Black maternal health. Virginians deserve to be able to decide when and how to become parents and should be able to expect the highest quality of prenatal and postpartum care regardless of their race,” Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said. “It is abhorrent and unacceptable that Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than their white counterparts in Virginia. We know the root cause of these disparities is racism and that we must address systemic racism and the social determinants of health to improve outcomes for Black women and families. As advocates for sexual and reproductive health care, it is vital for us to join our partners in advocating for maternal health equity.”

“In Virginia, Black women are 9 times more likely to lose their pregnancies and two to three times more likely to die from preventable pregnancy related causes than white women. This is a stunning fact and tragedy for our Commonwealth. We must act now to end this disparity in healthcare outcomes and protect Black women, their pregnancies, and their families,” Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia said. “That starts with policy changes that address the systemic racism and bias in the medical field that leads to the untimely deaths of Black mothers. Examining racial bias in the medical field and the economic disparities that put Black women at risk are long overdue steps that must be taken now. Everyone deserves to have a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. Black women are no exception.”

“Black women in the United States are more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than women in any other race group. Policymakers, health care professionals and communities can improve black women’s maternal health outcomes,” said Stephanie Nash, Virginia Advocacy Director for Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. “We must expand and maintain access to health coverage. We must provide quality patient-centered care that is responsive to the needs of Black women. We must address the social determinants of healthcare. We must invest in healthcare safety and quality improvement initiatives 365 days of the year.  Back women deserve to have safe and healthy pregnancies and childbirths. To improve Black maternal health outcomes we need systematic change that starts with the health care system moving to improve access to care making places Black women live and work healthier, fair and responsive to their needs.”



Contact Kenda Sutton El at for more information about the following events: