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Does racism contribute to malpractice in childbirth?

In the last few years, there have been some disturbing revelations about the American medical system — particularly where childbirth and maternal care are concerned. American women are dying at shocking rates in childbirth. While other developed nations have seen a sharp drop in maternal mortality, it’s no longer uncommon for American mothers to die in childbirth or shortly after.

And, if you happen to be a black woman, your odds of dying during childbirth in an American hospital are about the same as if you were giving birth in Uzbekistan. The difference between the mortality rates for black women and women of other races — not just whites — is shocking. Around 12 white women out of 100,000 will die in childbirth. For women of other races (except black women), the figure is closer to 18 out of 100,000. However, 40 out of every 100,000 black mothers will die as a result of childbirth complications.

What accounts for the disparity? There may not be one easy answer, but some people believe that racism is definitely a factor. A study that examined the five major health factors that often lead to maternal death during childbirth or in the following year found that black women don’t suffer from those conditions at a significantly higher rate than white women — but they do die from them more often.

Several potential factors have been suggested to explain the epidemic of maternal deaths in America for all races. However, it’s hard to deny that something seems tragically amiss — specifically in the way that black mothers are treated for their medical problems when compared to mothers of other races.

If your loved one died during childbirth or from post-birth complications, you need all the support you can get for the child she left behind. Talk to a attorney about whether a medical malpractice suit might be an option.