As a reproductive rights advocate, I talk a lot about access to contraception and abortion. If you’ve been on Facebook or watched the news lately, then you know at every turn, someone is looking to take away our constitutional right to make decisions about our own bodies and whether, how, and when to start a family.
Do you know what else is a right that we aren’t always afforded? Having a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth, especially if you’re a Black woman. Historically, Black women have been ignored when it comes to medical care, and if even celebrities like Beyonce and Serena Williams experience near-fatal pregnancy complications, you know it’s a big problem for everyone.
For me, I heard it growing up in my mother’s retelling of the trauma she experienced giving birth to me. She went into labor five weeks early, and continued to be in pain for three days. Eventually, she was wheeled into a surgical room to get a Caesarean procedure—not something that she had planned for.
Luckily, my mom’s story turned out okay. Though mildly traumatized, she left the hospital with her newborn, both in good health.
But that’s not the case for a lot of us. Black women are 4 times more likely to die from issues related to pregnancy than their white counterparts. There are several reasons why these complications occur, ranging from intervention-based care, where doctors use hormones or drugs to induce or speed up labor or delivery, to systematic racism.
This General Assembly session, we are supporting budget items that will combat these healthcare inequities.
- Expanding Medicaid coverage for new moms from 60 days to 365 postpartum
- increased access to contraception, including long-acting, reversible contraception (LARCs) like IUDs
- Medicaid reimbursement for midwife and doula care for pregnant people
All of us, regardless of race, income, gender identity, age, or immigration status has the right to choose how and when to start a family. Everyone should feel supported in the decisions they are making for their family, regardless of whether they choose to have an abortion, have a baby, or take birth control. Your legislator needs to hear from you so they know to support Black mothers and these budget amendments. Email your legislator today and tell them to prevent maternal mortality in the Commonwealth!