In the United States there is a clear maternal mortality crisis for Black women. Following reports of the death of Sha-Asia Washington, a 26-year-old Black woman who died during a cesarean section at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn on July 3, the call for justice for her and other Black mothers who aren’t given the medical attention needed to save their lives is extending as far as Hollywood with Amy Schumer sharing a photo, her story and a call to donate to her family’s GoFundMe to benefit her partner and four-day-old baby girl.
“Women of color are 12 times more likely to die unnecessarily during child birth in New York City. 4 percent everywhere else. Did you know that? This woman died in Brooklyn at Woodhull hospital a few days ago and never met her little girl,” Schumer wrote. “#Shaasiawashington scream her name. There’s a go fund me for her in my bio but we need to wake up and do better every day.”
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Women of color are 12 times more likely to die unnecessarily during child birth in New York City. 4 percent everywhere else. Did you know that? This woman died in Brooklyn at woodhull hospital a few days ago and never met her little girl. #shaasiawashington scream her name. There’s a go fund me for her in my bio but we need to wake up and do better every day.
“Sha-Asia was a beautiful soul. She passed away giving birth to her beautiful baby girl Khloe. She just started her family. Just got her own apartment to be on her own,” Jasmin Lopez wrote in the description for the GoFundMe for Washington’s family. “If you know shaasia she wanted to be a mom and she was gonna be an amazing one. She left behind so many hurt people with this sudden tragic lost. No one was expecting this.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Black women die at rates that comparable to developing nations and in New York City Black women are 12 times more likely to die from causes related to childbirth.The institutional racism present in the medical system is an issue that has long been pressed by reproductive justice advocates fighting for holistic changes to make care more equitable for Black mothers. Given the history of gynecology comes from a history of violence against Black bodies and the lasting effects of racism on motherhood for Black women, there’s a lot of ground to cover to make sure that Black mothers have successful, healthy and happy pregnancies and can go on to live and raise their kids. Though class and unequal access to resources is an issue brought up in many conversations about maternal mortality, that narrative doesn’t make up for the fact that college-educated Black women are equally likely to die from birth-related issues as white women without high school diplomas.
This is a crisis that leaves countless families devastated without their loved one and countless children without their mothers — and it’s way past time that the larger reproductive health community join in to advocate for them.
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