Tuesday, October 29, 2019
California Governor Signs SB 464 into Law, Requiring Perinatal Health Providers To Receive Implicit Bias Training
Essence (Oct. 10, 2019): California Now Requires Perinatal Health Providers To Receive Implicit Bias Training, by Tanya A. Christian:
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the "California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act" (SB 464) earlier this month, which mandates implicit bias training for health care providers serving pregnant persons. State Senator Holly Mitchell authored the bill. Reproductive justice-oriented groups, including Black Women for Wellness, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Act for Women and Girls, as well as California Nurses Association all backed the law, which earned unanimous support in the state legislature.
The law is aimed at reducing maternal mortality among Black women--who face a disproportionately high rate--in the United States. It will require all care providers to both engage with bias training and improve their data collection processes in order to better understand the causes behind pregnancy-related deaths.
"As it stands, the U.S. leads the developed world in the number of pregnancy-related deaths. Black women compromise a large portion of those casualties, presenting a risk of mortality that is three to four times that of White women."
California currently has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the country and hopes to improve it further through SB 464.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Essence (Feb. 20, 2018): Black History Legacy: Honoring The Black Women Who Birthed Our Movements, by Cameron Glover:
"[N]aming the Black women who have metaphorically given birth to the movements that are so vital to social justice and our collective well-being is a necessary step toward truly celebrating Black excellence."
Here is a small reminder of important Black women and their organizations that have and are trailblazing the way toward reproductive justice:
SisterSong, a Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, coined the term "reproductive justice" to specifically address the disparities in reproductive health care women of color face.
Defining reproductive justice as "the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities," SisterSong has worked in the Southern United States to fight states’ invasive abortion bill laws, which further restrict access to abortions. But the group has also worked to help communities of color get greater access to resources, education for improved reproductive health, and support for the personal choice to start a family or end a pregnancy.
The Combahee River Collective.
The Combahee River Collective, a Black lesbian feminist group based in Boston from 1974-1980, highlighted mainstream feminism's problem with inclusivity. The Collective's legacy lives on today calling feminists to intersectionality and inclusivity.
Audre Lorde established the importance of "self-care."
Identified by Lorde as a method of self-preservation and as "an act of political warfare," Lorde's self-care is touted by activists fighting for reproductive rights and justice today as an essential element to centering their own well-being in the midst of the ongoing political fight.
Tarana Burke started the Me Too Movement many years before #metoo became a mainstream hashtag.
The movement began as a way to increase awareness of sexual violence against Black women and girls. While the movement has grown into a larger conversation and is now often incorrectly credited to the White women who helped amplify the national conversation on sexual harassment and assault, it's important to know that the movement's origin lies with Tarana Burke, a Black woman empowering Black women. "This erasure is all too common for Black women, and it makes the push for centering and saying their names alongside the work they do both necessary and non-negotiable."
From SisterSong to the Combahee River Collective, from Audre Lorde to Tarana Burke, we must ensure that the Black women behind the movements that are vital to our understanding of sexuality and liberation are cited and credited. But the work is not done. We also need to make sure that publicly crediting these Black women becomes routine because, in light of the violence and discrimination that Black women face, these movements are some of the few ways that they will gain public acceptance. It’s time that we move Black women from behind the curtains and into the spotlight, celebrating them for their commitment to change and to centering those that need change most.
Friday, June 8, 2018
Rewire.News (June 6, 2018): Is Your Hospital Catholic? Many Women Don’t Know, by Amy Littlefield:
About one in six women in the United States name a Catholic facility as their go-to hospital for reproductive health care.
However, more than a third of these women are unaware that their hospital is Catholic, according to a survey revealing an “information gap” about Catholic hospitals, where religious rules dictate access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion services.
Among women who listed a Catholic hospital as their primary facility for reproductive care, only 63 percent knew that the hospital was Catholic, researchers found. The study, published in the journal Contraception, did not address whether respondents knew how Catholic hospitals restrict care.
Women with annual incomes under $25,000 are less likely to realize their hospital is Catholic than women who make more than $100,000 a year, the researchers found, underscoring how these barriers disproportionately affect marginalized patients. A January report found women of color are more likely to give birth in Catholic hospitals and thus bear the brunt of these religious restrictions.
Patients seeking care in Catholic facilities have been turned away while bleeding and made to wait until they sicken to receive miscarriage treatment. Cesarean section patients in Catholic hospitals often can’t have their tubes tied at the same time they give birth, requiring a second surgery elsewhere. Transgender patients have had gender-affirming surgeries canceled on religious grounds.
The researchers called on hospitals to better advertise their Catholic affiliations. “Efforts are needed to increase hospital transparency and patient awareness of the implications that arise when health care is restricted by religion,” they wrote.
Women overwhelmingly want to be informed about religious restrictions: eighty-one percent say it’s important to know these barriers when they decide where to go for care.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Mic (Apr. 9, 2018): Black Mamas Matter Alliance is launching the first National Black Maternal Health Week, by Nataleg
“The goal of the week is to deepen the conversation around black maternal health and amplify black women leaders who are working on the issue,” BMMA steering committee chair Elizabeth Dawes Gay said.
As part of the inaugural National Black Maternal Health Week, organizers are hosting community events in California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas to raise awareness about the racial gaps in maternal health and to discuss solutions to closing them. Events include screenings of Death by Delivery, a documentary about black maternal mortality; panels featuring black women advocates; and educational workshops on yoga for birth and postpartum stages.
The conversation around black maternity reached national headlines after tennis superstar Serena Williams revealed in a January interview with Vogue, that she had a serious health scare — blood clots in her lungs — after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis. But when Williams, who has a history of blood clots, first requested a CT scan and blood thinner medicine, her medical practitioners did not listen to her.
Lynn Roberts, co-editor of Radical Reproductive Justice and professor at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, spoke on the impact racism has on the treatment people receive, at the Schomburg Center for Research and Culture in Harlem in March.
“There is a different level of care afforded to people of color, indigenous people, poor people and trans people,” said Roberts.
Organizers for National Black Maternal Health Week are using social media to drive conversation using the hashtag #BMHW18.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
The New York Times Magazine (April 11, 2018): Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis, by Linda Villarosa:
Villarosa of The New York Times Magazine profiles several black mothers and their pregnancy, child birth, and health care stories while exploring the extraordinarily wide disparity in care that black women receive compared to white women.
The U.S. is one of only 12 countries whose maternal mortality rates have actually increased in recent years and now has a mortality rate worse than 25 years ago. Maternal mortality refers to "the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy." Women of color are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women.
Moms are not the only ones facing the consequences of underdeveloped care.
Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel.
In the past, many explanations for the disparity turned to poverty, assuming that it was poor and uneducated black women and their babies that suffered the most. But the crisis does not consider class lines, it turns out. "In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education."
In 2014, Monica Simpson--the executive director of SisterSong, an organization dedicated to reproductive justice for women of color, and a member of advocacy group Black Mamas Matter Alliance-- testified before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. She called on the United States to “eliminate racial disparities in the field of sexual and reproductive health and standardize the data-collection system on maternal and infant deaths in all states to effectively identify and address the causes of disparities in maternal- and infant-mortality rates.” That the United States has not done so is a violation of the international human rights treaty, she says.
This is important for many reasons, one of which is the dramatic effect that society and systemic racism have on a pregnant person's "toxic physiological stress levels." This stress increases the chances for hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and other dangerous pregnancy complications, and it is exacerbated by the pervasive, systemic racial bias embedded in the United States' health care system. Racial bias, discrimination, and the toll it takes on women of color throughout their lives and pregnancy contributes to increased maternal complications across all class and education levels.
Even when controlling for income and education, African-American women had the highest allostatic load scores — an algorithmic measurement of stress-associated body chemicals and their cumulative effect on the body’s systems — higher than white women and black men. ...Though it seemed radical 25 years ago, few in the field now dispute that the black-white disparity in the deaths of babies is related not to the genetics of race but to the lived experience of race in this country.
Community care systems that incorporate the medical and personal support of doulas and midwives have proven to increase black women's chances at a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum experience.
"One of the most important roles that doulas play is as an advocate in the medical system for their clients." A doula may sometimes be the only person consistently present with the mom-to-be during her birth experience, too. One study of 2,400 women found that "more than a quarter of black women meet their birth attendants for the first time during childbirth, compared with 18 percent of white women."
Doulas “are a critical piece of the puzzle in the crisis of premature birth, infant and maternal mortality in black women.”
Rachel Zaslow, a midwife and doula in Charlottesville, Virginia established Sisters Keeper--a collective of 45 black and Latina doulas in Charlottesville. They offer free birthing services to women of color.
'The doula model is very similar to the community health worker model that’s being used a lot, and successfully, throughout the global South,' Zaslow says. 'For me, when it comes to maternal health, the answer is almost always some form of community health worker.' Since 2015, the Sisters Keeper doulas have attended about 300 births — with no maternal deaths and only one infant death among them.
An analysis of a similar program in New York City showed that, over a five-year period, moms receiving the support of the doula program experience half as many preterm and low-weight babies compared to other community members.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
The New York Times (Aug. 9, 2017): The Right to (Black) Life, by Renee Bracey Sherman
Three years since the killing of Michael Brown, women of color are asserting that one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time is not abortion, as anti-choice advocates argue, but police brutality.
While the fundamental right to procreate (or not to) remains essential for black women, many point out that this choice, without the legitimate ability to raise their children in safety and away from violence, "rings hollow."
It’s important to understand that the fight for reproductive justice and the fight to end police brutality go hand in hand. State violence and control, whether through racist policing, the criminal justice system or the welfare system, are all issues at the core of reproductive justice. They are fundamentally about whether you, or the state, has control over your own body and destiny.
Reproductive justice as a human rights framework, was initiated by women of color in the early 1990s. Beyond abortion, the movement is about ensuring a woman's right to choose whether to conceive, her right to a safe, shame-free pregnancy, and the right to raise her children free from state control and brutality.
Discrimination against black mothers and mothers-to-be begins right away and is recognized by organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Racial bias, they say, affects mothers and families both directly through unequal treatment, and indirectly through the stress of such an environment.
Anti-abortion activists, in particular, when black mothers survive the killing of their children, look to blame the mother or the child himself. "They scrutinize every parenting decision and ignore the structural issues that force those decisions."
Far too often, compassion for black lives doesn’t extend beyond the womb or to the black women carrying that womb. Too few tears are shed for the people killed by police violence. Reproductive justice is about the resolve to raise our families on our own terms, safely. This is the fight for the right to life.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Cosmopolitan.com (Jul. 18, 2016): Police Violence Is a Reproductive Justice Issue, by Leslie Watson Malachi:
In this piece, Malachi reflects on mothers who have lost their sons to violent police officers. Police violence is a reproductive justice issue, she argues, because "[w]omen must not only have the right to choose abortion, but also the right to choose to bring a child into this world and raise them in an environment free from violence. It's a right that is demolished every time young people of color are questionably gunned down by the police."
Malachi easily finds the connection between reproductive justice and an environment free of racially-motivated police violence in the fact that the reproductive justice movement was founded by African-American women as a way of promoting the well being of women, their families, and their communities. This movement hinges not only on the constitutionally guaranteed right of women to make decisions about whether and when to exercise their reproductive potential but on "the social justice rights of women of color to safely raise a child in our country."
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Salon (July 11, 2016): Anti-choice activists attempt to hijack Black Lives Matter to shame women for abortion, by Amanda Marcotte
Coming off of a week of violent murders, racism, and police violence, many in America believe that coming together as a community is the way to rise above violence. Still, in the wake of tragedy, some conservative activists have hijacked the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement for their own gain - shaming women for abortions. "Conservative Twitter" has erupted with hashtags that proclaim "Unborn Lives Matter," with anti-choice accounts like that of the Radiance Foundation and Students for Life adding the hashtag to anti-choice ads and tweets on their pages. Amanda Marcotte calls out conservative activists for the campaign:
But the eagerness of the anti-choice movement to hijack, undermine, or even demonize the Black Lives Matter movement exposes the “well-meaning people” belief as the myth it is. Anti-choice is about the same politics of resentment, bigotry, and cruelty as the rest of the conservative movement, and this behavior simply proves that fact once again.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Colorlines (Feb. 9, 2016): Black Lives Matter Partners With Reproductive Justice Groups to Fight for Black Women, by Kenrya Rankin:
Today, leaders from Black Lives Matter, Trust Black Women and New Voices for Reproductive Justice connected to discuss the intersectionality of the movements to save the lives of Black women and how activists and politicians can align and amplify the message.
According to Feministing,
leaders discussed abortion access, the Flint water crisis and environmental justice, and state violence. This partnership solidifies the commitments of both movements to intersectional, collaborative work and positions them to address some of the most pressing issues in Black communities.
Trust Black Women defines intersectionalism as the "understanding that the impacts of race, class, gender and sexual identity oppressions are not additive but integrative." This theory is fundamental to reproductive justice work. Intersectional collaboration such as this will grow solidarity and impact of participating groups.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
RH Reality Check (Jan. 14, 2016): For Black Women's Lives to Matter, Legislators Must Halt Attacks on Our Bodily Autonomy, by Monica Simpson:
Monica Simson of SisterSong responds to comments made by Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) criticizing the Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Lives Matter movement for not working to limit abortion access. Simpson calls out Duffy and other politicians who seek to push aside the Black Lives Matter movement's emphasis on Black lives by declaring that all lives matter. Recent attempts such as the "All Lives Matter Act" introduced by Rep. Mike Moon (R-MO) which seeks to define a fertilized egg as a person further co-opt the movement. "Rep. Moon sees an opportunity to use the mantle of a movement that is about the dignity of the Black community to mount an attack on Black women’s access to care." Simpson writes:
Black women have historically faced disparities in access to reproductive health care, including abortion. Chronic health conditions plague our community, and yet many of the lawmakers who claim to care about all lives—which should mean our lives too—have been silent, or worse, they have pushed for steeper cuts to health programs.
Where is their care for Black babies when Black women have endured forced sterilization in hospitals, in prisons, in our doctor’s offices? Where is their concern about the fact that Black women experience a high rate of maternal mortality or that Black families are more likely to struggle with food insecurity and to become homeless?
Simpson emphasizes that for Black women the fight to dismantle white supremacy and the fight against those who seek to control Black women's reproduction has always been intrinsically linked. "We do need politicians to Trust Black Women to make our own decisions about our bodies, our families, and our lives and to join us in speaking out against such vitriol when their colleagues don’t."
Monday, October 6, 2014
The Huffington Post -- The Blog: Reproducing Race, by Dov Fox (University of San Diego Law):
More than a million children in the U.S. each year are conceived with donated sperm or eggs. Sperm banks and egg vendors offer online ordering and direct shipping of donor materials that prospective parents can shop for based on SAT scores, personality tests, and celebrity likeness.
"[W]hat we try to do is give [parents] as much choice as possible," explains Dr. Cappy Rothman, co-founder of the world's leading sperm bank, California Cryobank. "If our customers wanted high school dropouts," he adds, "we would give them high-school dropouts."
What many of these (mostly white) parents want is a child who will look like they do. This means picking a donor who is, like them, white. . . .
Monday, March 24, 2014
Feministing: No Reproductive Justice for Pregnant Indigenous Women in Mexico, by Juliana:
In October of last year, Irma Lopez Aurelio arrived at a state health clinic in Oaxaca, Mexico, in labor with her third child. The doctors at the clinic told her to come back, that her labor was not advanced enough and no doctor was available to help her. Irma, who is Indigenous, spoke little Spanish and was unable to communicate how advanced her labor was to the monolingual doctors. After hours of waiting, Irma gave birth on the lawn outside of the clinic.
In the past nine months, seven Indigenous women in Mexico have been documented having their babies in the yard, waiting rooms, or front steps of state clinics. . . .
Thursday, September 5, 2013
The New York Times - Motherlode blog: Poor, Black and Hispanic Women Are More Often Counseled on Emergency Contraception, by Hope Reeves:
The number of women using emergency contraceptives — commonly known as the morning-after pill or Plan B — has increased significantly in the last decade, according to the results of a new survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2002 to 2006-10, the percentage of women who reported using an emergency contraceptive in the last 12 months rose to 2.2 percent from 0.9 percent, a 144 percent change. . . .
Thursday, May 30, 2013
PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona filed a lawsuit today on behalf of the NAACP of Maricopa County and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) challenging a state law that relies on harmful racial stereotypes to shame and discriminate against Black women and Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women who decide to end their pregnancies.
The law, HB 2443, is based on stereotypes that Black and API women cannot be trusted to make personal health care decisions without scrutiny by the state.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Colorlines: The Missionary Movement to 'Save' Black Babies, by Akiba Solomon:
Last December, Care Net—the nation’s largest network of evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy centers—featured a birth announcement of sorts on the website of its 10-year-old Urban Initiative. Under the headline, “Plans Underway for Care Net’s Newest Center in Kansas City, Mo.!” a block of upbeat text described how a predominantly white, suburban nonprofit called Rachel House had “made contact” with “various African American pastors and community leaders,” who helped them “plant” a “pregnancy resource center” in a predominantly black, poor section of downtown Kansas City. . . .
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Grio: Black female lawmakers walk out of Florida House over racial arguments made for abortion bill, by Alexis Garrett Stodghill:
A group of black female lawmakers walked out of a fiery debate in the Florida House on Thursday over the state’s latest bill focusing on abortion. House Bill 845, which passed the Florida House of Representatives by a margin of 71-44 that day, stipulates that a doctor performing an abortion must sign an affidavit confirming it was not performed based on the race or gender of the fetus. . . .
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Feministing: Quick Hit: Gosnell's clinic and the cost of dignity in health care, by Maya Dusenbery:
As we’ve already mentioned, the conservative claims of a liberal media “blackout” surrounding the trial of Kermit Gosnell are totally ridiculous. Feminist bloggers and journalists, including us, have been covering this terrible story from the beginning. Our own Lori wrote an article in the Grio two years ago on the racial segregation of Gosnell’s clinic and what this story says about safe abortion access for low-income women of color. . . .
The Atlantic: 14 Theories for Why Kermit Gosnell's Case Didn't Get More Media Attention, by Conor Friedersdorf
The New York Times - Public Editor's Journal: Politics Aside, the Gosnell Trial Deserves — and Is Getting — More Coverage, by Margaret Sullivan
Slate: Kermit Gosnell: The Alleged Mass-Murderer and the Bored Media, by David Weigel
The Atlantic: If More Funding Went to Safe, Legal Abortions, Would Kermit Gosnell Have Happened?, by Jeff Deeney
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Israeli Health Official Calls for Investigation into Reported Forced Contraception on Ethiopian Immigrant Women
TIME: Did Israeli Doctors Force Contraception on Ethiopian Immigrants?, by Sorcha Pollak:
Israeli Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has called for an investigation into the reported administering of Depo-Provera contraceptive shots to Ethiopian immigrant women without consent. . .
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Fox News Latino: Latino Youth Less Sexually Active, Using More Birth Control, by Kacy Capobres:
Latino youth in the U.S. are learning to practice safe sex. And they're also having less of it.
The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Latino high school students are getting smarter when it comes to sexual intercourse. . . .
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Monday November 5, 12:15 p.m. MST
(2:15 p.m. EST, 11:15 a.m. PST)
Michele Bratcher Goodwin, the 47th Annual Leary Lecturer, is the Everett Fraser Professor in Law at the University of Minnesota. She holds joint appointments at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Women's reproduction dominates recent political platforms and debates. However, relatively little attention has focused on the criminal policing targeted at pregnant women across America. Since the late 1980s, state legislatures have enacted punitive feticide laws that ostensibly apply to a broad range of activities, including falling down steps, suffering drug addiction, refusing cesarean sections, and attempting suicide. Legislators and prosecutors from both political parties have decided that a very strong "stick" should be used against pregnant women. Indeed, despite the fact that early feticide laws were intended to protect women from third party harms to their pregnancies, such as domestic violence, because women are more likely to be the targets of domestic violence during their pregnancies, now fetal protection laws—in 38 states—lead to unreasonable arrests and senseless convictions of pregnant women. The scope of the problem is difficult to measure. Yet, what is clear from the legal cases and news reports is that most of the victims are poor and many are women of color. In this year’s Leary Lecture, Professor Goodwin examines the expanded use of criminal laws and civil commitments to shape new reproductive health norms. Watch Live Online >>.
Free and open to the public. No registration required. One hour CLE.
Call 801-585-3479 or visit law.utah.edu.
November 1, 2012 in Fetal Rights, Law School, Lectures and Workshops, Politics, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Race & Reproduction, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)