It is more dangerous for women in the US to give birth now than it was 30 years ago…and 92% of these lives could have been saved.
A birth should be a joyful, exciting experience for every family, yet Black women in the United States are three to 4 times more likely to die during childbirth than white women
Black mothers experience stillbirths at double the rate of white mothers, and Black infants die at 2 to 3 times the rate of white infants.
The discrepancies persist regardless of a mother’s socioeconomic status and education, and when Black babies are delivered by Black doctors, their mortality rate is cut in half.
If the health of a society can be measured by its maternal and infant mortality rates, the United States is ailing. We are the only industrialized nation in the world where maternal mortality is rising, and 60% of those deaths are preventable. Access to quality healthcare, underlying chronic conditions, systematic racism, bias and the effects of toxic stress are all factors contributing to disparities in pregnancy-related deaths, maternal health complications and infant mortality.
IT’S NOT RACE, IT’S RACISM THAT IS THE ISSUE.
BIRTHING JUSTICE, a feature-length documentary film, centers on the expertise and lived experiences of Black women and their advocates. As cameras follow women through pregnancy, delivery and the postpartum period, medical and social justice experts expose the challenges they face—including genetic predispositions, chronic stress, racial bias, culturally ignorant care and barriers to adequate healthcare.
These inequitable structures and systems have resulted in a racial disparity in maternal and infant health.
Now there’s a movement to fix the broken system, change the culture and transform our future. BIRTHING JUSTICE turns the spotlight on the progress being made by health initiatives and best practices. With input from advocates and leaders in the birthing justice movement, the film focuses on what is being done to address this national crisis and offers solutions that can be replicated in communities across the country.
BIRTHING JUSTICE gives Black women, their caretakers and their advocates a voice, a chance to be seen, heard and respected.
We must listen to Black women, for they will tell us what we need to shift the narrative and achieve true birthing justice.
Historically, the Black/white disparity in infant mortality placed the blame on mothers. Investigations conducted more than two decades ago revealed the prevailing wisdom among medical professionals was that poor, less-educated women of color put their lives and the lives of their children at risk by smoking, drinking, using drugs, and not eating right. Furthermore, many people believed women should be held responsible for their losses if they were too young, or unmarried, or didn’t seek medical help during and after their pregnancies.
For every maternal death, there are 70 near misses. Black women experience near misses at a rate 2.1x higher than white women.