EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Alarmed at the national disproportionate trend of maternal deaths among black women, state Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, spearheaded the creation of a task force that will bring together health officials to provide recommendations to decrease infant and maternal mortality among black women in Illinois.
“Having a child should be one of the most wonderful, positive moments in a person’s life,” Greenwood said. “But for too many families, a trip to the hospital to give birth is turning into heartbreak. I’m incredibly concerned that this seems to happen more often for black women, and we need to look at ways to address this ongoing tragedy.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (LINK), black women have a pregnancy-related mortality ratio approximately three times as high as that of white women. Some studies have suggested that racism is a defining factor behind the disproportionality of maternal and infant mortality in the black community, limiting access to prenatal resources, responsible care and medication that could prevent deaths.
The Greenwood-backed House Bill 1 creates a task force that will provide best practices on decreasing infant and maternal mortality in the black community in Illinois. It will include medical providers, physicians, nurses, midwives, hospital representation, OB-GYN specialists, doulas, insurance representation, advocates and representatives from relevant state agencies.
“If there are opportunities to lower the mortality rate, we should be looking at them,” Greenwood said. “Maternal health among black women is literally a matter of life and death, and we need to examine ways to address this health disparity. Any single life we can save is worth the effort.”