In an exclusive letter to the readers of Blavity.com, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the dire facts of Black Maternal Health. She shared the current facts and the heart-breaking stories she heard from women across the country and even some within her office. She wrote:

Last week, I invited several Black women to the White House to share their stories of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum complications. The stories I heard had many things in common, but one refrain stood out: Black women are not being heard.  

We have to change that. So I’d like to share a few things I think every Black woman should know when she begins her journey toward becoming a mother. 

You are allowed to ask questions. And you must.

One courageous woman, Donna Trim-Stewart, joined us at the White House to share the story of her daughter, Arika Trim. Arika was a former Capitol Hill staffer who died unexpectedly a week after giving birth. Ms. Trim-Stewart is now the primary caretaker of Arika’s son, Djai. 

Akira was a health communications professional, who came prepared for each doctor’s appointment with a notebook of questions. After our system failed her, Ms. Trim-Stewart is still seeking answers. 

We have to change that. So I’d like to share a few things I think every Black woman should know when she begins her journey toward becoming a mother. 

You are allowed to ask questions. And you must.

One courageous woman, Donna Trim-Stewart, joined us at the White House to share the story of her daughter, Arika Trim. Arika was a former Capitol Hill staffer who died unexpectedly a week after giving birth. Ms. Trim-Stewart is now the primary caretaker of Arika’s son, Djai. 

Akira was a health communications professional, who came prepared for each doctor’s appointment with a notebook of questions. After our system failed her, Ms. Trim-Stewart is still seeking answers. 

“I have so many questions,” she told us. “Why was she sent home two days after an emergency C-section, given her prior medical history? Why wasn’t she taken seriously?”  

Every woman has the right to ask questions of their healthcare provider through every step of a pregnancy. Keep a notebook and a list of questions. Doctors are there to care for you. It is their job to answer your questions. If they are doing their job correctly, they will always take the time to carefully go through each question with you. 

And, in the wake of tragedy, families have a right to ask questions, too. That’s one reason that President Joe Biden and I continue to advocate for the implementation of Maternal Mortality Review Committees. These committees would provide crucial data on the deaths of mothers who die within a year of pregnancy and help mothers like Ms. Trim-Stewart finally receive some answers. 

You have the right to be heard and believed.  Read the full letter here.


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