TOOLKIT: #BlackMamasMatter: Reproductive Justice and Black Women’s Maternal Health

Resources shared here were created by SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

Reproductive justice (as coined by Sistersong, which you can read here) encompasses more than just birth control or abortion rights. In fact, the biggest piece of the reproductive justice is its third tenet–the right to parent (or not) in safe communities free of violence, and with the necessary resources for a happy, healthy life. And even more important is the reproductive justice framework’s commitment to analyzing power systems, focusing on intersecting oppressions, and centering the voices of the most marginalized populations, including women of color. As Audre Lorde said so eloquently and consistently:

That’s why Indiana NOW is signal-boosting Sistersong’s campaign to combat the maternal health crisis that is affecting black women in disproportionate rates. As Sistersong and the Center for Reproductive Rights’ human rights report, “Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care” explains:

Nationwide, Black women are nearly four times as likely to die in childbirth as their White counterparts…Socioeconomic factors and geography also drive disparities [in maternal health and mortality rates]. Women of color comprise more than half of U.S. women living in poverty, and the poverty rate for both Black women and Latinas is three times that of Whites. High cost of health care, poor access to providers for women who depend on publicly financed care, a lack of prenatal care, and inadequate maternal and postnatal care all contribute to higher rates of maternal death in low-income women. (6-13)

As these facts explain, this is a very serious issue that we need to fix in this country. #BlackMamasMatter and as part of NOW’s commitment to reproductive justice and racial justice, we hope that you will share these resources with your chapters, boost them on social media, and plan some local action campaigns to organize for better health care for women of color.

Follow the conversation: #BlackMamasMatter #RJ2017

RESOURCES [quoted from Sistersong]:

[Image from the Center for Reproductive Rights]

  • TOOLKIT TO ORGANIZE FOR RJ FOR MAMAS OF COLOR: “The Black Mamas Matter meeting brought together researchers, service providers, policy experts, and community organizers to identify innovative strategies for improving maternal health outcomes for Black women. Out of this gathering came an innovative toolkit of resources to support the development of state strategies.”
  •  ORGANIZATION INFO: BLACK MAMAS MATTER ALLIANCE: “Organizers also identified the need to have a more structured effort to continue to recognize, celebrate, and support Black mamas.  The  Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA) was launched in 2016.”

We hope that your NOW chapters will get involved in this important issue. We also encourage you to contact Sistersong with any questions, or to ask to join their planning group.