Vice President Kamala Harris is once again drawing attention to the “national crisis” of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth complications — disproportionately Black women.
In a visit Thursday to the University of California, San Francisco, Harris noted that the U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate among all developed countries.
“I do believe that our nation is facing a crisis on the issue of maternal health — it’s real,” Harris said in her remarks.
“We know, for certain women the risk is much higher,” she added, noting that regardless of income or education levels, Black women are over three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, and Native women over twice as likely.
“A big factor which contributes to these outcomes is systemic inequities,” Harris added. “Differences in how people are treated based on who they are ... disparities that are often a matter of life and death.”
Most pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are fully preventable, and they happen up to a year after a person gives birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Harris noted that she’s been working for years “to make sure our nation treats maternal mortality as the national crisis it is.”
Harris has long been an advocate for Black maternal health, including as a presidential candidate and as a senator for California. In the Senate, she introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which sought to address preventable deaths and racist disparities in pregnancy and birthing care. (Many of the proposals in that bill were included in the Build Back Better legislative package, which was stalled by Republicans in Congress.)
In the White House, Harris convened the first-ever cabinet-level meeting on maternal health earlier this month, and last year convened a White House day of action on the issue.
“Women are the pillars of so many families and communities,” Harris said Thursday. “Let us all continue to work together to ensure every woman and mother in our nation has the care she needs to thrive.”