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“There is a greater racial gap in infant mortality rates today than there was during slavery in America”

Friday, Jul 13, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Brad Schneider (D-IL-10), and Bill Foster (D-IL-11) today pressed Governor Bruce Rauner on what steps his Administration is currently taking—or plans to take—to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in Illinois, as well as to reduce the stark racial disparities.

The United States is one of only 13 developed countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality—the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth either during pregnancy or up to a year after the end of the pregnancy—is worse today than it was 25 years ago. Each year, an estimated 700 to 900 women nationwide now die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, with black women significantly more likely than white women to die from pregnancy related causes. In 2016, Illinois had more than 150,000 births, with 72 pregnancy-associated maternal deaths and 985 infant deaths. In Illinois, black women have 3.5 times higher mortality rates than white women and black infants have nearly 3 times higher mortality rates than white infants—far worse than the national average.

“The United States is one of the very few developed countries where deaths related to pregnancy or childbirth are increasing—and there is a greater racial gap in infant mortality rates today than there was during slavery in America. This is simultaneously unacceptable and heart-breaking,” the members wrote. “More must be done to help women and infants across Illinois—especially black mothers and babies—and we look forward to hearing what your Administration plans to do to assist in these efforts.”

Today’s letter, from members of the Illinois delegation, requests information regarding what steps the Rauner Administration is taking to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in Illinois and reduce the stark racial disparities. The letter asks for information regarding what services are currently, or should be, covered by Illinois’ Medicaid and private insurance plans with respect to maternity and newborn care, and seeks to get commitment from the Governor that, despite President Trump’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act’s important consumer protections, he will ensure that all health plans in Illinois are required to cover health care services vital to new families. Finally, the letter asks for more information on how Illinois is, or plans to, better tackle implicit bias in medical care for minority women and babies. [Emphasis added.]


The letter is here.


The governor’s office did not respond Thursday to a request for comment WAND-TV emailed to them early that afternoon.

I’ll follow up.

* Related…

* How Hospitals Are Failing Black Mothers - A ProPublica analysis shows that women who deliver at hospitals that disproportionately serve black mothers are at a higher risk of harm


  1. - MakePoliticsCoolAgain - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:01 am:

    =In 2016, Illinois had more than 150,000 births, with 72 pregnancy-associated maternal deaths and 985 infant deaths.=

    Stunned. Absolutely stunned. But our country is having a debate about going back to the day when using closer hangers for abortions was the only option. Scary times, folks.

  2. - Rocky Rosi - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:05 am:

    I think we should look at income issues more than the race issue when it comes to infant health. Some families need help finding a livable wage and help with mental health if needed. The ACA was a good blueprint for this but it could have been sold better to the public.

  3. - Gruntled University Employee - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    This is a shocking, sad and unacceptable consequence of a for profit medical system.

  4. - anon2 - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:07 am:

    These stark racial gaps in maternal and infant mortality belie the assumption by many white Americans that there’s a level playing field, and that blacks face neither discrimination nor harm from the lingering effects of Jim Crow.

  5. - Nick Name - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    You’d think the pro-life movement would be all over fighting infant mortality and maternal mortality. But, nah, they don’t care. Crickets is all we’ll get from them, especially when their favorite Illinois bogeyman, Sen. Durbin, is on board.

    Speaking of which, I see not a single member of the Party of Life and Family Values in the above list of Illinois politicians seeking answers from Gov. Gaslight. Shocked, I am.

  6. - Gruntled University Employee - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:13 am:

    Nick Name, I respectfully submit that the pro-life movement is, in reality, a pro-birth movement, nothing more.

  7. - nonBeliever - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    This ‘headline’ has been thrown up since the beginning of the Great Society programs in the mid

    A lot of dollars have been spent on this and related issues. But according to some, and they are probably right, the issue never goes away.

    Important that abortion remains available.

    Also important to recognize some individual responsibility and stop trying to make this a not so thinly veiled attack on Whites

  8. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:16 am:

    ===not so thinly veiled attack on Whites===

    Another snowflake.

  9. - Nick Name - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:18 am:

    ===Nick Name, I respectfully submit that the pro-life movement is, in reality, a pro-birth movement, nothing more.===

    Absolutely, Gruntled.

  10. - Occam - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    Here’s the key quote from the article above: “Dr. Ovadia Abulafia, the chair of the hospital’s department of obstetrics and gynecology, noted that SUNY Downstate serves a particularly “underserved” and “high-risk” population. More than 80 percent of women who deliver there are obese, a spokesperson said, and the hospital sees a higher incidence of diabetes, blood pressure disorders and placental separation problems compared to the rest of the nation.”

  11. - anon2 - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:41 am:

    === Also important to recognize some individual responsibility ===

    In other words, the dead victims are to blame.

  12. - nonBeliever - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    Since you stated I was I Snowflake would you have the courtesy to explain why that is so and be willing to hear any disagreement.

  13. - don the legend - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:45 am:

    Some of these elected officials have had decades to make a difference.
    All are Democrats calling on a Republican governor. If the governor were a Democrat then all of the concerned elected officials would be Republican.

    When Democrats and Republicans call on each other to address these problems for the benefit of all then we can see progress. But as long as these statistics are used to score partisan points progress will continue to be inadequate.

  14. - Scamp640 - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:53 am:

    @ nonBeliever. You should first explain how simply reporting that African American mothers and their infants are mistreated by the health care system is a thinly veiled attack on whites. You have asserted an opinion with no data or logic to support your view.

  15. - Anonish - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    The comorbities of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are becoming more common across all demographic groups but faster among those in lower economic brackets

  16. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    Poor people are far more likely to have health issues related to diet because they’re far more likely to not have the same choices the rest of us take for granted.

  17. - Ivy - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 12:08 pm:

    The main problem is lack of knowledge of how to take care of the human body that is not taught in our schools. Too many people are obese, have diabetes, high blood pressure, and unhealthy lifestyles. I am a black 82 year old great-grand with masters degrees and have always researched healthcare since high school days prior to becoming a parent. Knowledge is the key to better health. Provide self-help material so people can learn how to take care of the body.

  18. - dbk - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 12:13 pm:

    While poor African-American women belong to the most vulnerable group, one of the most puzzling and troubling aspects of this research (i.e., the ProPublica series - highly recommended) is that in fact, higher morbidity-mortality rates among African-American women cut across all income groups extending to the top of the income pyramid.

    This was not something investigators had anticipated.

  19. - 37B - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    Perhaps Governor Village People will consider taking a break from union busting in order to address an issue of obviously less importance to him.

  20. - Perrid - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 12:55 pm:

    How much does the gap narrow if you somehow control for income, I wonder? I’m not doubting racism, sexism, and stress related to those account for some of the gap, but minorities are typically less wealthy as well which would have more of a direct impact on health, I think anyway.

  21. - Emily Miller - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 1:28 pm:

    @nonBeliever, Rich can speak for himself, but I’d be happy to have a conversation with you about the fragility it takes to see a story about racial disparities in infant and mother mortality rates and think it’s actually an intentional attack on white people. To be fair to you, white people are the enforcers of systemic racism and if we’re moving on to the solution portion of the conversation we’re going to need to accept that so we can change it. That’s not an attack on white people- that’s just true. But the bit of the story quoted doesn’t get there, so you’re safe for now. And when we do get there, white people are going to be ok. I promise.

  22. - Austinman - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 3:09 pm:

    Thank you Emily

  23. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 3:31 pm:

    ==Also important to recognize some individual responsibility==

    In what ways are the deaths caused by individual responsibility?

  24. - L.A. - Friday, Jul 13, 18 @ 3:39 pm:

    and where is Bishop Paprocki’s statement on this? Nowhere, that’s where. The hypocrisy is staggering.

  25. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Monday, Jul 16, 18 @ 7:50 pm:

    ==In what ways are the deaths caused by individual responsibility?==

    Currently, 77% of African American children are born out of wedlock, which is a large contributing factor in poverty. So yes, individual responsibility cannot be dismissed. The same thing goes for obesity, the woman in the article Rich linked was 260 lbs., which would make her morbidly obese. Again, this is at least partially a matter of individual responsibility.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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