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Pregnancy is such a stressful period for women. The risks they take to give birth are unmatched.

If you google causes of death during pregnancy, the list of life-threatening complications would scare any normal human being.

From severe bleeding to infections, to even high blood pressure, maternal mortality is a serious issue for women.

But, surprisingly enough none of these complications lead the way in the cause of death among pregnant people.

A shocking study from Obstetrics & Gynecology journal found that homicide was the leading cause of death among pregnant and postpartum people. Pregnant people were also twice as likely to die by homicide than any other cause of maternal mortality.

The risk of death becomes even greater when broken down by race and age.

Young women and girls ages 10-19 who were pregnant were six times more likely to die by homicide when compared to their non-pregnant peers. Young black pregnant women in the same age range were 12 times more likely to die by homicide.

Also according to a study by Aaron Kivisto, a clinical psychologist at the University of Indianapolis, “Black women were eight times more likely to be killed by their intimate partner than non-pregnant Black women.”

Researchers attribute most of these disparities to systemic racism which has limited access to quality prenatal care, heightened rates of unwanted pregnancy among younger black women. This directly correlates to partner stress and violence. Researchers also found that two-thirds of the homicides occurred in the home and most involved firearms.

“There’s a history in this country of Black women being physically abused, sexually abused, having a lack of control over their bodies and people hurting their bodies,” said Alana C. Brown, founder and executive director of nonprofit Safe Sisters Circle. “People also don’t believe Black women when they say they are in pain.”

Brown also suggests that we approach preventing intimate partner violence in a different more effective way with anti-bias training for doctors, hiring more black women in medical professionals, to easier access to affordable quality health care. “The people providing the services need to look the people getting the services,” said Brown.

Black women deserve our protection, especially if she’s pregnant or has just given birth. Yes, the system is flawed, but that doesn’t mean we also have to be.


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Ma'Khia Bryant
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