Birthing women are dying at an alarmingly high rate in the U.S., with many of these deaths being utterly preventable.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports over 80% of maternal fatalities could have been prevented had adequate care been provided during pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth. Birthing women are dying from mental health conditions, hemorrhages, heart conditions and infection, amongst other health conditions.
Black women are especially prone to dying due to childbirth complications. The death rate of birthing Black women is three times greater than that of of Caucasian women. The CDC reports that in 2021, fewer Black women were giving birth, but the fatality rate amongst them was greater than that of women of other races.
Why the disparity?
Much of the disparity between maternal death rates of Black women compared to women of other races is attributed to systemic racism and lack of care.
There is an unintentional predisposition amongst health care professionals towards ignoring Black women’s health complaints during pregnancy, labor and after pregnancy. Black women were not always provided with appropriate tests and examinations after complaints of pain. Unfortunately, the stereotype of the “angry Black woman” still exists and such unconscious racism is a barrier towards Black women receiving appropriate health care.
In addition, Black women do not have the same access to doctors and health care facilities as women of other races, especially in the U.S. South. Rural hospitals are closing. In addition, poverty amongst Black women mean they cannot afford to get the care they need.
Maternal mortality and wrongful death
When a birthing woman of any race dies due to a preventable complication of pregnancy, labor or post-pregnancy, and that death was caused by negligent care at the hands of a health care provider, the woman’s family may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice.
Families who, through a personal representative, pursue a wrongful death lawsuit can seek compensation for loss of financial support, loss of companionship and mental suffering, amongst other damages.
In general, a family has two years from the date their loved one died to file a wrongful death lawsuit. So, if a loved one died in due to pregnancy or childbirth complications, families will want to ensure they take advantage of all legal options they have for compensation.