Letters to the Editor

We can reduce black maternal deaths in Iowa

On April 27 a group of black women from Linn and Johnson counties gathered to share stories. These were stories of pain, mistreatment and forced care. You know, what every mother fears during pregnancy and childbirth.

These fears — along with a maternal mortality rate three to four times that of white women — are a reality for black women in America. Everyone should find that unacceptable.

No state has been immune to this epidemic, though it is more pronounced in the South and rural areas. Iowa’s fewer rural hospitals — 64 percent of which don’t have a staff obstetrician — cost women care when time is a life-or-death factor. Black infants in Iowa died at twice the rate of white infants from 2007-2016.

Even when hospitals have the appropriate staff, black mothers are at risk. That’s because things as fundamental as standardized checklists to enduring challenges of institutional racism and prejudice contribute to these maternal deaths.

In 21st century America, no woman should fear her death during childbirth. We know the solutions. We need the will to admit our failings and forge ahead. The soul and future of our nation are at stake.

Erin Owen

Cedar Rapids

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