Elizabeth Warren has detailed a plan to incentivise hospitals to make childbirth safer for African American women. The candidate, who has unveiled a number of comprehensive platforms for her possible presidency, is being met with praise for the proposed policy, which she revealed at the She the People conference in Texas.
“Black moms in our country are dying from childbirth-related causes 3-4 times more often than white moms,” Warren said in a tweet accompanying video of her talk on the policy. “Any meaningful solution to our maternal mortality crisis must address structural racism as a root cause of this problem.
The US is one of only two developed nations whose maternal mortality rate has worsened in the last two decades (the other is Serbia), and in fact has the highest maternal mortality rate in that metric. For African American women, the risk of death from complications in childbirth is particularly high, with an average of 40 per 10,000 women dying.
MS Warren’s plan addresses the problem with what she refers to as the language hospitals speak in America: money.
“I want to see the hospitals see it as their responsibility to address this problem head-on and make it a first priority,” Warren said at the event on Wednesday evening. “The best way to do that is to use money to make it happen, because we gotta have change and we gotta have change now."
Warren’s plan would essentially follow practices already in place, she explained, citing hospitals’ common approach to knee surgery as an example. Essentially, hospitals would be paid for successful child births - and fined for failures resulting in deaths.
Online, African American women in particular expressed their approval of the policy.
“Elizabeth Warren rolls out plan to reward hospitals that make childbirth safer for Black Women,” wrote activist April Reign in a tweet sharing the video of Warren describing the plan. “Literally financial incentives for them to do right and penalties if they do wrong. I’ll be damned.”
“This is major,” Bitch Media Editor-in-Chief Evette Dionne tweeted. “Elizabeth Warren is doing something that few candidates seemingly do: listen to scholars and read their scholarship. I think her willingness to rely on experts to guide policy positions has a whole lot to do with her background in academia.”
The issue of African American women’s risk in live births has been addressed by a number of prominent African American women lately, including Serena Williams and Beyoncé, who shared in her newly-released Homecoming documentary that she suffered from high blood pressure and preeclampsia during her last pregnancy.
Both women’s stories have stirred up conversation around the treatment of African American women by healthcare professionals.