Black Maternal Health Week sounds alarm on disparities Black moms face across Delaware Valley

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Across the country, there is a call to action for a health crisis Black mothers face. For the first time, the White House issued a presidential proclamation marking Black Maternal Health Week.

In the United States, Black women are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.

"We're not a developing country and we have access to the best medical care. But the question is, does everyone have access to the best medical care?" Dr. Elena McDonald said.

In Philadelphia, a recent report by the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review Committee found that Black women made up 43% of births from 2013 to 2018 but accounted for 73% of the pregnancy-related deaths.

"It doesn't matter your socioeconomic status, it doesn't matter your educational attainment," said Shane Derby, founder of Black Mothers in Power.

Many point out the challenges celebrities like Beyoncé and Serena Williams faced with giving birth, including New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy. She's made it her mission to tackle the disparity.

Black mothers in New Jersey are seven times more likely than white mothers to die from pregnancy-related complications, and Black babies are three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthdays.

"This is due to racism, it's centuries of racism and implicit bias," Murphy said.

Under the First Lady's strategic plan, New Jersey is expanding Medicaid coverage for 365 days postpartum. This will expand the state's Reproductive Health Care Fund to support undocumented women, funding a pilot program for housing support for eligible pregnant women and support the creation of a doula registry.

"We are going to make our state the safest and most equitable state to deliver and raise a baby. The plan's goal itself is to reduce maternal mortality rates by 50% over five years," Murphy said.
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