Bridging Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

Posted By: Trinisha Williams AABC News Release,

"Mothers of Gynecology" - statues of Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey honor the enslaved women who were subjected to brutal experiments in the name of science.

Venus Standard and I recently represented the American Association of Birth Centers at the Anarcha Lucy Betsey Third Annual Day of Reckoning Conference in Montgomery, Alabama.  This enlightening conference offered a unique opportunity to delve into the intricate relationship between history, gynecology, and health care, with a particular focus on the experiences of enslaved individuals in the United States. Participating in this event allowed us to discuss the potential of birth centers as a solution to many healthcare challenges.

It was a pleasure to engage with other AABC members in attendance, including Heather Skanes (Oasis Women’s Health) and Carla Morrow (Midwife + Co.). Our shared exploration of the "mothers of gynecology" was an eye-opening journey that underscored the importance of acknowledging and understanding the past to foster a more equitable and inclusive healthcare environment.

A significant portion of the conference was dedicated to addressing the deeply rooted history of racism in our country, a topic with profound implications for our current healthcare setting. This discussion served as a sobering reminder of the legacy of racial biases that continue to perpetuate disparities in maternal health among Black women.

Venus Standard’s Emmy Award-winning documentary, "Critical Term: Why Are Black Mothers and Babies Dying?" provided a powerful lens through which to examine this issue. Particularly at the 10:21 mark, Dr. Simms' discussion on the misinformation surrounding his experiments on enslaved women, including Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey, revealed the poignant historical injustices that have shaped the current healthcare landscape. These revelations underscore the urgent need for concerted efforts to improve Black maternal health.

We must strive to foster a culture of inclusivity and respect, ensuring that all people, regardless of their race or background, receive the highest standard of care. This includes implementing comprehensive education programs to dispel myths and misinformation, providing equitable access to quality healthcare, and promoting research into the unique health challenges faced by Black women. Moreover, engaging the community in these efforts is crucial. Platforms like Venus Standard’s documentary can play a vital role in raising awareness and facilitating discussions on these important issues. It is through such collective action that we can hope to effect meaningful change and bridge the racial disparities in maternal health.

I extend my heartfelt thanks for AABC’s support that has not only enriched our professional development but also empowered us to actively contribute to improving Black maternal health in our county. We look forward to AABC’s continued support in these endeavors.

Until next time, stay healthy and keep advocating for change.

About the Author: Trinisha Williams, MPCM, LM, MPH, FACCE, LCCE, LC is the AABC President-Elect.  She is a community birth midwife and the Midwifery Collective President and Founder. Trinisha is currently working on creating Brooklyn’s first midwifery-led non-profit birthing center, Haven Midwifery Birthing Center.

About the photo: "Mothers of Gynecology" - statues of Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey honor the enslaved women who were subjected to brutal experiments in the name of science. Photo credit - Venus Standard