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Standing Together: Addressing the Urgent Stakes Post-Dobbs Decision

Photo of a Black pregnant woman's belly.

Commentary by Michellene Davis, Esq., NMF President and CEO

This Black Maternal Health Week, it is imperative that we recognize the profound stakes of the fight for maternal health equity. The U.S. Supreme Court upended the right to reproductive care and access to essential health care services in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision nearly two years ago.

The implications of this decision are dire, particularly for Black mothers who already face disproportionate barriers to accessing quality health care and are three times more likely to die of pregnancy related causes than pregnant white people.

Preliminary findings from Care Post-Roe: Documenting cases of poor-quality care since the Dobbs decision, found increased morbidity as well as complications that could result in serious impairment and risk of death in states with abortion bans.

We cannot ignore the intersecting challenges of systemic racism, socioeconomic disparities, and limited access to reproductive health care that contribute to the alarming disparities in maternal health outcomes among Black women. Every mother, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, deserves access to comprehensive and culturally competent care throughout their pregnancy and childbirth journey.

The tragic loss of Krystal Anderson, a beloved former cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs and software engineer is but the latest in a heartbreakingly long list of pregnancy-related deaths of Black women. It is an urgent reminder of the devastating consequences when Black mothers are denied timely and appropriate medical care.

As an organization committed to advancing health equity, National Medical Fellowships (NMF) reaffirms our dedication to advocating for policies and initiatives that address the root causes of maternal health disparities, such as the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.

One of the most powerful tools is to prepare doctors committed to fighting maternal health disparities. NMF is deeply proud to support diverse students of medicine who go on to be transformative reproductive health care leaders like Dr. Ericka Scott and Dr. Michael Belmonte.

The United States has a shockingly high maternal mortality rate. We cannot accept the status quo. Join National Medical Fellowships in calling attention to this escalating crisis.