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New York, NY — This Black Maternal Health Week – an initiative spearheaded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) — Planned Parenthood is joining patients, providers, and advocates across the country in lifting up the need for maternal health research that centers Black women. This week will also focus on the importance of recognizing the critical research and scholarship that Black women have contributed to the field of maternal health as well as developing more effective policies and solutions for Black mothers.

Maternal mortality rates have reached critical levels in the United States, and racial disparities in care have led to Black women dying from pregnancy-related complications at 3 to 4 times the rate of white women.

Statement from Nia Martin-Robinson, Director of Black Leadership and Engagement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

Choosing to become a mother shouldn’t mean you get worse care, threaten your financial security, or put your life at greater risk simply because of your race. Black women deserve holistic maternal and reproductive health care, and we’re demanding effective policies and solutions that focus on our experience not based on research that excludes us. Black scholars have already been doing this work, it's time policy makers listen to them in order to create policies that actually help us save Black lives. We need to do better to serve Black moms and that starts with listening to Black women.

There is no singular reason for the decisive increase in maternal mortality nationally, or in Black communities specifically. It’s driven by many compounded factors including overt racism and implicit racial bias in the medical field, poverty, lack of access to quality health care, and health complications. The maternal mortality rate for Black women in the U.S. cuts across age, education, and income level – making it critical that researchers take a closer look at the role of racism and discrimination in harming maternal health. 

Planned Parenthood is proud to see everyone, regardless of race, gender, income, insurance, sexual orientation, disability, or immigration status. Several affiliates are currently advocating for legislation that will improve maternal health, including bills that would allow for private and public insurance coverage of doula care, and a few offer prenatal care. At Planned Parenthood, we also work to engage patients in the development of our own research as patient advisors and as experts on their own experience.

All Planned Parenthood health centers also provide a number of essential health care services that contribute to maternal health and women’s health more broadly, including: hypertension screening, BMI screening, cervical and breast cancer screening, STI screening, testing and treatment, intimate partner violence (IPV) screening and referral, and postpartum contraception. Many affiliates also work to promote maternal health through diabetes screening, depression screening, obesity management, screening for substance use, smoking cessation support, screening for environmental and teratogenic exposures, vaccination (including flu), preconception genetic screening, care of patients experiencing miscarriage, as well as primary care and behavioral health.

From April 11th to 17th, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance is leading the 2nd Annual #BlackMaternalHealthWeek. Sign up for BMMA’s e-newsletter and stay up-to-date on ways that you can mobilize to support Black Mamas during #BMHW19 http://bit.ly/BMHW19.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.