Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy is in hot water after the comments he made in a recent interview about the Black maternal mortality rate in the state.
“About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear,” Cassidy told Politico. “Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.”
The senator later noted that maternal mortality rates include deaths that happen while postpartum, up to a year after birthing.
Cassidy, a gastroenterologist, believes the problem with his state’s high maternal death rate could be solved by simply restricting the definition of what is considered perinatal.
“Sometimes maternal mortality includes up to a year after birth and would include someone being killed by her boyfriend,” Cassidy told the source. “In my mind, it’s better to restrict your definition to that which is the perinatal, if you will — the time just before and in the subsequent period after she has delivered.”
As MADAMENOIRE has previously discussed in our detailed reporting on the issues presented, maternal mortality rates are more severe for women of color, particularly Black women.
There’s a reason why the CDC, and subsequently many states like Lousiana, have expanded the understanding of what adds to maternal mortality rates.
Statistically, Black women in the U.S. are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than white women.
Relatedly, “pregancy-associated deaths,” while not directly caused by pregnancy, are still a reality many families tragically endure.
Just last year, MN reported homicide as a leading cause of maternal mortality, with 50 percent of women killed during and after pregnancy being Black.
Referencing Cassidy’s indifference when he said, “For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality,” there are many reasons why.
They include the racial and socioeconomic disparities that play an often fatal factor for those populations.
“The United States has the worst maternal mortality rate among developed nations,” Politico further outlined.
An estimated 17 mothers die for every 100,000 pregnancies in our nation.
In Louisiana, “four Black mothers die for every white mother,” Politico additionally detailed. Moreover, “the state ranks 47th out of 48 states [that] officials assessed.”
The issue is dire, not one to be disregarded.
Cassidy Addresses The Backlash
On May 22, Cassidy responded to the backlash he’d been receiving over his comments.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, the senator argued that his statements had been misquoted in order “to create a malicious & fake narrative.”
“Minority health disparity is a real issue we need to address, and fake news and false outrage hurt our ability to make progress,” Cassidy said.
He then linked to sources he suggests reading, and legislation he’s associated with to fix his state’s maternal mortality crisis.