Oseye Boyd

It’s 2019 — pretty close to 2020 — and maternal mortality is still an issue for Black women in this country, state and city. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this topic on this page. In fact, it’s the third time. I wrote about maternal and infant mortality in December 2018 and January of this year. It’s a topic I continue to revisit because the problem isn’t getting better.  

Marion County has the dubious distinction of having seven of the 13 zip codes with the highest infant mortality rate and most are on the east side. In Indiana, 53 Black moms die per 100,000 births. That number doesn’t include the number of women who have near death experiences. Many of us know women who are “lucky to be alive” after having complications during pregnancy or after delivery. 

Judge Glenda Hatchett’s daughter-in-law Kira Dixon Johnson died 12 hours after delivering her second child. She had a routine, scheduled C-section. Now, Hatchett and her son, Charles Johnson, Kira’s husband, are working hard to prevent unnecessary deaths from delivery. Hatchett, who stars in “The Verdict with Judge Hatchett” and “Judge Hatchett” will be one of the featured panelists during the Indiana Minority Health Coalition (IMHC) 2019 Minority Health Initiative Annual Luncheon Sept. 17. Other panelists include Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner; Dr. Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, assistant dean of Diversity Affairs at IU School of Medicine; and Dr. Arline Geronimus, a researcher the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Tina Cosby will be the mistress of ceremonies and Carolene Mays-Medley will moderate.

In addition to the luncheon, State Rep. Vanessa Summers and IMHC will hold the town hall meeting, “Black Maternal Mortality: The Intersection of Race and Healthcare” 6-8 p.m. Sept. 16 at IMHC, 4737 N. Meridian St. Suite 300. Karen Vaughn will moderate a panel that includes Summers, State Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill), Dr. Virginia Caine, director of Marion County Public Health Department, and Geronimus. Register for the free event at bmmtownhall.eventbrite.com.

The town hall promises to be informative as guests relay legislative efforts to fight maternal mortality at the national and state levels.

This discussion is long overdue. Studies and discussions are fine, however, action must follow and continue until the problem is resolved. And, the resolution must happen at the medical level. It’s been proven time again, the socioeconomic status of a Black mother doesn’t matter — death is still a possibility regardless of whether you have a Ph.D. and private insurance or a GED and Medicaid. Institutional racism in the medical community is alive and well. Legislation to hold doctors and hospitals accountable is needed, but doctors should want to solve this problem without legislative oversight. If healthy Black women, who were under medical care are dying, the onus isn’t on the mother.

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