Pregnant women in the U.S. are suffering higher mortality rates. That’s especially true for Black women. And Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) wants to see something done about that.
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In a speech Wednesday at the Center for American Progress, the potential presidential hopeful voiced her concerns in the hopes of bringing awareness to the situation. Harris described it as “a truth that must be spoken.”
“Women in the healthcare system must be given dignity. They must be listened to. They must be taken seriously. They must be given respect,” she said. “They must be given a sense of dignity about understanding that when they tell you something, then listen. They know what they need when they tell you. Hear them.”
Black women are three to four times likelier than white women to die when choosing to become mothers. The news isn’t good for Black infants either. They are twice as likely to die as compared to white infants.
“We can solve for this because, at its core, one of the biggest parts of the problem is that this is an issue of race,” she said.
Education and awareness are crucial to fight this problem, she noted. And she says the government needs to do more than it’s doing.
“I’ve found myself saying recently that if something is worth fighting for, it’s a fight worth having,” Harris said, repeating the statement once more for emphasis. “And when it comes to maternal healthcare for Black women in America — it’s a fight worth having.”
Last April, Harris released another bill on this issue, calling the rising mortality rate among pregnant women “a public health crisis,” Bustle notes.
“A large part of it is the biases that exist in the medical health professions that lead to these women not being taken seriously,” she said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “Frankly, there are a lot of biases that exist. […] It’s a truth, as uncomfortable as it may be.”
Indeed it is. A 2014 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 18 out of every 100,000 new mothers died of complications due to pregnancy. This rate is more than double the rate in 1987.
While the video below doesn’t feature Harris, it highlights this tragic issue in a way that’s funny and insightful.