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Pregnancy can be life-threatening for black women. SB 464 can change the equation


Western Center and our partners are working to address California’s black maternal health crisis. Western Center’s Courtney McKinney and State Senator Holly Mitchell teamed up to explain how a new bill, SB 464, could help address the issue, in the Sacramento Bee. An excerpt is below, you can read the full piece here.


Black History Month has come and gone. It is a month that reminds us of the resilience, fortitude and strength black Americans have exhibited to stay alive and thrive in this country.

Black women in particular have borne the brunt of adverse experiences created by the nation’s racist foundations. While significant strides have been made, black women continue to suffer needlessly and disproportionately from the seeds of white supremacy that many of us continuously work to uproot.

The issue of black maternal mortality hit news cycles hard last year, prompted by tennis superstar Serena Williams’ revelation that her childbirth experience brought her near to death. Shortly after she gave birth, Williams knew – from decades of intimate knowledge about her body – that blood clots were forming. Yet she could barely get medical staff to pay attention. After demanding a CT scan and blood thinner, and after initially being ignored, she was eventually treated for life-threatening blood clots. This saved her life.

Another high profile black woman, TV Judge Glenda Hatchett, lost her daughter-in-law, Kira Johnson, hours after Kira gave birth to her second child at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Kira and her husband, Charles, waited seven hours before a doctor ordered an internal exam. It took even longer for Kira to be taken to surgery to stop her bleeding. That was time Kira didn’t have to spare.

Those high-profile stories elevated the issue of black maternal mortality. Soon, story after story reported what black women have been saying for years – that no matter the level of education, career, or financial success achieved, being a black woman in America is hazardous. Why? Because even in 2019, the pain, knowledge and experiences of black women are not taken seriously. This is deadly.