April 11, 2024

Contact: William Lutz 202-785-5100

“We are letting women, especially Black women, needlessly die…”

Black Maternal Health Week 2024 Highlights Ongoing US Maternal Health Crisis for Black Women

Washington, DC — Dr. Jamila K. Taylor, President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and a nationally recognized expert on Black maternal health, issued the following statement today ahead of National Black Maternal Health Week 2024, taking place April 11-17.

“America’s ongoing Black maternal health crisis is a national tragedy that goes largely unnoticed in our society. We think of ourselves as an advanced nation, but the US has more maternal deaths than any other ‘wealthy’ nation in the world, and Black women are around three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women.

“The shameful truth is that ongoing structural racism plays a central role in the deaths of these Black women. Biases within the medical profession still shape the care Black women receive—or don’t receive—during pregnancy, often with tragic consequences. This is true for all Black women, regardless of their income levels or where they come from.

“The situation is even scarier for Black women in states that restrict access to abortion and reproductive health services, where women are 62 percent more likely to die due to pregnancy-related complications.

“But statistics cannot capture the tragic loss and human toll the Black maternal health crisis takes on families and children. Pregnancy should be a time filled with joy and celebration, but Black mothers are too often fearing—and fighting—for their lives when giving birth.

“This Black maternal health crisis represents a complete policy and societal failure that must be addressed. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we need immediate action from leaders and policymakers at all levels. We are letting women, especially Black women, needlessly die. They deserve better, and we must act.”

BY THE NUMBERS: Black Maternal Health Nationwide

  • Black women are approximately three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women.
  • Data from 36 states finds that more than 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.

BY THE NUMBERS: Black Maternal Health in the States

  • Maternal death rates in abortion-restricted states are 62 percent higher than in states with abortion access.
  • Forty-five percent of the population of Black women and girls under the age of 55 live in states that have heavy abortion and contraceptive restrictions or total bans.

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The Institute for Women’s Policy Research strives to win economic equity for all women and eliminate barriers to their full participation in society. As a leading national think tank, IWPR builds evidence to shape policies that grow women’s power and influence, close inequality gaps, and improve the economic well-being of families.