Maternal Mortality Among Black Women Calls for Immediate Action: Unveiling the Crisis


Tori Bowie, a three-time Olympian, tragically passed away from childbirth complications, bringing attention once more to the alarmingly high rates of maternal mortality among Black women. While high-profile incidents like Tori’s make news, the harsh reality is that numerous Black and Brown women in the United States face comparable dangers every day. Despite socioeconomic position or access to healthcare, systemic racism, generational trauma, and institutional biases are the core reasons. Now is the time to deal with these problems head-on and eliminate the underlying biases that are a part of this disaster.


Rates of Maternal Mortality: A Shocking Reality

Pregnancy-related deaths are a devastatingly common occurrence among Black women, with mortality rates three to five times higher than their white counterparts. Even women with higher levels of education and economic standing face significantly higher risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased by 40% between 2020 and 2021, with Black women being disproportionately affected. These alarming statistics highlight the urgent need for comprehensive action to address the underlying factors contributing to this crisis.

Beyond Social Determinants of Health: Tackling Bias

While social determinants of health are vital factors, they often become an excuse to shift blame back onto the patients. It’s easier for healthcare providers to discuss environmental conditions than to address the deeply rooted biases within their own practices. While improving access to a healthy environment is crucial, it is equally important for physicians and healthcare workers to recognize and challenge their internal biases and cultural stereotypes that contribute to patient oppression and higher mortality rates in women of color. This section emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and dismantling biases to achieve meaningful progress in reducing maternal mortality rates.

Empowering Women and Improving Communication

  • To combat the crisis, a patient-centric approach is crucial. Initiatives like the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative (TBEI) are working tirelessly to reduce maternal health disparities in states where Black and Native women are twice as likely to die as their white counterparts. TBEI focuses on empowering pregnant women to use their voices and actively participate in their healthcare decisions. Additionally, programs such as TeamBirth, developed in collaboration with Ariadne Labs, aim to improve communication between patients and healthcare providers during perinatal hospital stays. By implementing shared decision-making models and fostering multi-disciplinary care teams, these initiatives ensure that patients feel heard and involved in understanding their care, ultimately improving outcomes and reducing disparities.

Confronting Bias: A Collective Responsibility

Addressing bias within the healthcare system requires a collective effort. Recognizing and challenging biases are not limited to individual healthcare providers alone; it necessitates systemic changes. Healthcare organizations must prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to ensure that all patients receive equitable and unbiased care. Furthermore, medical education and training programs need to integrate cultural competency and anti-bias training to promote awareness and sensitivity among future healthcare professionals. By actively confronting biases, the healthcare system can foster a more inclusive and equitable environment for all patients.

Advocacy and Policy Reform

Achieving lasting change requires not only individual and institutional efforts but also advocacy and policy reform. Activists, community organizations, and policymakers must work together to address the underlying social determinants of health that disproportionately impact Black women’s maternal health outcomes. This includes initiatives to eliminate racial disparities in access to quality healthcare, improve maternity leave policies, expand Medicaid coverage, and promote community-based support networks. By implementing comprehensive policies and addressing systemic issues, society can create an environment where every woman, regardless of her race or socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to experience safe and healthy pregnancies.


The time for change is now. Maternal mortality rates among Black women reveal a crisis rooted in racism, bias, and systemic failure. The stories of Tori Bowie, Serena Williams, and countless other women demand urgent action to dismantle the structural barriers that perpetuate this injustice. Empowering women, improving communication, and confronting biases are essential steps on the path to equality in maternal healthcare. It is a collective responsibility to ensure that every woman, regardless of her race or socioeconomic status, receives the care and support she deserves. Only by addressing the deep-seated issues at hand can we hope to eliminate the tragic toll of maternal mortality among Black women and create a future where every pregnancy is safe and celebrated.

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