Mills Provost Chinyere Oparah Co-Authors Report on Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis in California

Oakland, CA–October 23, 2017

Chinyere Oparah Battling Over BirthThe report, Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis in California, documents human rights abuses in California’s maternal health-care system and calls for corrective action by practitioners, health insurers, and policy-makers. Some of the findings in the report reveal that:

  • Pregnancy and birth is often a battleground between black pregnant women and their health-care providers, creating stress, anger and distress.
  • Lack of respect for women’s boundaries, stereotyping due to race, class, age, sexual orientation and marital status are primary sources of conflict.
  • Participants are pressured into unwanted medical procedures, denied full informed consent, and denied basic needs such as needing to move, squat or push during labor.
  • A culture of fear and coercion, fueled by media images of childbirth, racial disparities and maternal deaths, leaves women vulnerable to control and coercion by medical professionals.

“Too often, public health policy is created without listening to the voices of those who are most affected,” said Mills College Provost and Dean of the Faculty Chinyere Oparah and co-author of the report. “Black women know what’s wrong with our maternal health-care system, but no-one is listening to what they have to say. This community-driven research aims to change that.”

With this report, Black Women Birthing Justice (BWBJ) seeks to build a grassroots campaign to transform birth experiences.

On Thursday, October 26, a community launch of the report will feature readings of birth stories from the report, performances by Sistahs of the Drum, and the launch of a social media campaign to #LiberateBlackBirth.

For more information and a full copy of the report, please visit: www.bwbj.org.