Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

As we found out recently, every single person who died from COVID-19 in the city of St. Louis (as of last week) was black.

It is impossible to decouple the death rate of this horrible virus for black folks from the systemic racism which results in the dramatic health disparities we witness in our own city. The cycle is pervasive, effecting every pocket of the black community. No area is more stark than childbirth, where black mothers in Missouri are three to four times more likely to die giving birth than white mothers. Add these outcomes to the other health disparities faced by black people, compounded by multiple systems of oppression adversely affecting our families and our neighbors, and the urgency of addressing each of these issues becomes crystal clear.

Black Maternal Health Week was created by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance in response to dire maternal health inequities facing black women in the United States. Missouri ranks 44th in the U.S. for maternal mortality, where the disparity here is larger than on the national level.

Planned Parenthood is deeply committed to improving maternal health outcomes for black women and to using our platform to amplify their voices and experiences. This year’s theme is “Centering Black Mamas: The Right to Live and Thrive,” to elevate black women’s voices and perspectives around issues that impact them, as they are best situated to solve the challenges in their communities.

As this week takes place in the middle of a global pandemic, we’re also seeing how COVID-19 is exacerbating many issues that already disproportionately impact black mamas and their communities: domestic violence, food insecurity, the wealth gap, housing insecurity and more. As this week highlights maternal health, many pregnant people are anxious about their birthing process as hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients and restrict visitors and support networks. COVID-19 also intensifies the risk of complications during pregnancy for black mothers. Fixing these issues won’t happen overnight, or over the course of a week. And solutions certainly can’t take place without centering black women.

If state and federal governments are going to address black maternal health and rising mortality rates, it needs to be done with intentional, consistent effort - with those most impacted at the center. Supporting and ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health care is just as crucial during a pandemic as it is any other time, and there is nothing political about it..

If the government isn’t going to pay attention, we will make them pay attention.

April Mickens Jolly is the Vice President of Patient Services at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and a proud black mama.


Explore more on


This website uses cookies

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors use cookies and other tools to collect, store, monitor, and analyze information about your interaction with our site to improve performance, analyze your use of our sites and assist in our marketing efforts. You may opt out of the use of these cookies and other tools at any time by visiting Cookie Settings. By clicking “Allow All Cookies” you consent to our collection and use of such data, and our Terms of Use. For more information, see our Privacy Notice.

Cookie Settings

Planned Parenthood cares about your data privacy. We and our third-party vendors, use cookies, pixels, and other tracking technologies to collect, store, monitor, and process certain information about you when you access and use our services, read our emails, or otherwise engage with us. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences, or your device. We use that information to make the site work, analyze performance and traffic on our website, to provide a more personalized web experience, and assist in our marketing efforts. We also share information with our social media, advertising, and analytics partners. You can change your default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of required cookies when utilizing our site; this includes necessary cookies that help our site to function (such as remembering your cookie preference settings). For more information, please see our Privacy Notice.



We use online advertising to promote our mission and help constituents find our services. Marketing pixels help us measure the success of our campaigns.



We use qualitative data, including session replay, to learn about your user experience and improve our products and services.



We use web analytics to help us understand user engagement with our website, trends, and overall reach of our products.