‘Crisis’

Maternal mortality rates are ‘stunningly high’ for black women in Texas

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

The United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world and, according to a devastating report in The Los Angeles Times, the numbers are “stunningly high” among African American women in Texas.

“The maternal death rate in Texas after 2010 reached ‘levels not seen in other U.S. states, according to a report compiled for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, based on figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Times writes.

Black mothers gave birth to 11.4 percent of babies born in Texas in 2011 and 2012, but they accounted for 28.8 percent of all pregnancy related deaths. This disconcerting trend appears to be driven by a number of factors.

For one thing, black women are more likely to suffer from complicating factors, like diabetes and obesity, prior to pregnancy. Texas has the largest number of uninsured residents in the United States, and as Jezebel points out, anti-abortion legislation has resulted in significant cuts to programs that offer women’s health care. Consequently, low-income women are missing out on routine screenings for diabetes, hypertension and cervical cancer, which can cause maternal deaths if they are not treated.

African American women have also reported that doctors do not take their health concerns seriously — particularly if they are poor, if they have pre-existing conditions, or if they already have children.

“We go into facilities and they speak condescendingly to us,” said Marsha Jones, executive director of the Texas non-profit Afiya Center, which advocates for black women’s reproductive health. “They rush us through the process. They downplay when we talk about what our symptoms are.”

“This is a crisis,” she added.

Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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