The disproportionate toll on African-Americans is the main reason the U.S. maternal mortality rate is so much higher than that of other affluent countries. Black expectant and new mothers in the U.S. die at about the same rate as women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, the World Health Organization estimates.

Black Mothers Keep Dying After Giving Birth. Shalon Irving’s Story Explains Why

On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving’s “village” – the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother – gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye.

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Washington D.C.’s infant mortality rate of 6.6 per 1,000 births is comparable to the national average rate of 6.1. However, in D.C.’s poorest area, infants are 10 times more likely to die than infants in the city’s most affluent area. Furthermore, women of color are hit the hardest. Now the women of Southeast D.C. (wards 7 and 8) – which are predominantly black and low-income – have even fewer maternal-health options.

Washington, DC’s Only Public Hospital Just Decided to Close Its Maternity Ward

In a closed-session vote Wednesday, the board of Washington, D.C.’s only public hospital decided to close its nursery and delivery rooms. As the Washington Post reports, now the women of Southeast D.C. (which is predominantly black and low-income) have even fewer maternal-health options.

photo: Alex Elle / @alex_elle

Each year in the United States, about 700 to 1,200 women die from pregnancy or childbirth complications, and black women like Saba are about three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy or delivery complications than white women.

Childbirth is killing black women, and here’s why

The former celebrity makeup artist, who saw clients such as novelists Candace Bushnell and Kyra Davis, decided to become a maternal health advocate, speaking on behalf of the 830 women who die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications every day around the world. That’s about 303,000 a year.

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