Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy: Our Maternal Death Rates Are Only Bad If You Count Black Women

According to GOP senator Bill Cassidy, the rate at which women die during pregnancy or shortly after is not as dire as it seem — if you don’t count the deaths of Black women.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Republicans are now saying the quiet parts out loud.

via Vanity Fair:

In an interview with Politico, the following words came out of Cassidy’s mouth: “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.”

There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the idea that Cassidy—who wants to defund Planned Parenthood is all, Yes, on its face, our maternal mortality rates are abysmal, but if you only count white women, they’re not that bad! Then there’s the phrase “for whatever reason.” In fact, there is one very big reason in particular— perhaps you can take a guess? “It’s no mystery why maternal mortality rates are so high among Black women,” Michelle Williams, the dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health said in response. “They are high because of the devastating impacts of structural racism and individual bias.” As Politico notes, Black mothers are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white mothers in the U.S., which has the worst mortality rate among developed nations and where “17 mothers die for every 100,000 pregnancies in the country.” In Louisiana, Black mothers are four times as likely to die than white mothers.

Asked what how Roe v. Wade being overturned would affect maternal mortality rates, Cassidy dismissed the question. “If we’re using abortion to limit maternal deaths, that’s kind of an odd way to approach the problem,” he said. That, of course, is total bullshit. As NBC News reported earlier this month, “Research suggests the bans and restrictions would have manifold effects on maternal health. For one, if more pregnant people can’t get the abortions they seek, they’d shoulder the risk of the U.S.’s relatively high—and rising—rate of death from pregnancy-related causes, which is particularly elevated among people of color.” As Dr. Amy Addante, an ob-gyn in Illinois, bluntly put it: “There are going to be women that will die from pregnancy because of this decision, period.”

Listen, this country is far from perfect — but we do whatever is in our power to fight and stop it from getting even worse.

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