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There is no denying that these are frightening times for every American when it comes to health. Health care professionals across the nation are working tirelessly to combat the effects of COVID-19. Planned Parenthood affiliates, along with other reproductive health centers, are doing the essential work to provide quality reproductive health care for all. 

Over the past few weeks, we have seen legislators across the country using this pandemic to take away reproductive freedoms. Reproductive health care is an undeniable need. If these rights are taken away, people  will suffer. However, due to racial health disparities that already existed prior to the pandemic, minorities will see the worst of this suffering.

The month of April is National Minority Health Month. There is no better time to talk about the growing reproductive health disparities that impact the lives of minorities in America. We can no longer ignore the facts that prove people of color are more vulnerable when it comes to reproductive health. 

People of color and minority communities are more at risk for unintended pregnancies, which leads to unplanned births, terminations of pregnancy, and miscarriages. This is the direct result of the fact that people in these communities tend to use less effective methods of birth control due to the lack of quality sex education in schools, not having access to quality health insurance, and, sometimes, lack of funds to pay for contraceptives that are most likely to prevent pregnancy. 

People of color who become pregnant are between two and six times more likely to die from pregnancy complications. There are several different causes for this shocking statistic; access to healthcare, an increased likelihood of having a chronic condition that makes pregnancy dangerous, and proximity to quality hospitals. The most disturbing reality, however, is that many medical professionals tend to underrate and disrespect the pain that a person of color may experience. Oftentimes, the death of a person of color during pregnancy or birth could have been prevented by simply listening to the patient and addressing their concerns.

Infant mortality, breast cancer, cervical cancer, STIs, teenage pregnancies, low birth weights, and more reproductive health issues are also found to impact people of color more than their white counterparts at an alarming rate.

Minorities simply cannot afford to have their reproductive health care reduced further. Under normal circumstances, our current health care system is not enough to ensure the lives and safety of people of color. This month, regardless of COVID-19, is meant to spread awareness about the complications minorities face when it comes to health care. It is our duty to close these disparities over time. 

Minority health matters, and it is time we protect it.  

Other resources:

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/3614/2773/6927/AA_Disparities.pdf

https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/health-care-equity

https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/communities/planned-parenthood-black-community

https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/seeking-causes-race-related-disparities-contraceptive-use/2014-10

https://www.npr.org/2017/12/07/568948782/black-mothers-keep-dying-after-giving-birth-shalon-irvings-story-explains-why

Tags: health, minority