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Don’t miss the premiere of A Mother’s Intuition on TV One next week. The heartbreaking film confronts the racial disparities affecting Black maternal healthcare.

Directed by Cas Sigers-Beedles, A Mother’s Intuition tells the story of a brilliant young sculptor named Toni (played by Denise Boutte) who is determined to uncover a suspected hospital cover-up surrounding the tragic loss of her stillborn baby.

The film sheds light on the widespread mistreatment of new or expectant Black mothers in the American healthcare system, which has exacerbated a deep-rooted mistrust in the medical system.

“We were told as young people that we have these professionals that we’re supposed to trust … and we kind of fall prey to that and don’t always listen to our bodies or listen to our instincts,” says the film’s director Sigers-Beedles.

“This film is more unique than others we’ve seen because it has a resounding sense of awareness for the disparities in the medical field, where African Americans are concerned,” says actress Brely Evans, who plays Cicely in the film.

Real-life events inspired Sigers-Beedles’ decision to create A Mother’s Intuition.

Racial Disparities in Maternal Mortality Rates

Black women in the U.S. are nearly three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, according to the CDC. While the agency cites multiple contributing factors, structural racism and implicit bias are among them, and their effects are undeniable.

In 2021, the CDC declared racism a “serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans.”

“Recently, the CDC declared racism a public health threat. The maternal mortality crisis in the United States emphasizes the truth behind this declaration: It is racism, not race, that is killing America’s Black mothers and babies,” writes Tina Suliman, senior program officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs.

While the overall U.S. maternal mortality rate has been on the rise, the difference is stark along racial lines. In 2021, the maternal mortality rate among Black women was 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the rate for white women was 26.6 per 100,000 in the same year, according to the CDC.

Civil Rights Investigation at Cedars-Sinai

One such case has led to a federal civil rights investigation into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California and the hospital’s care of Black mothers giving birth.

The investigation was prompted by a civil rights lawsuit filed by Charles Johnson IV in May 2022. Johnson’s wife, Kira Dixon Johnson, died after suffering “massive internal bleeding” for nearly 10 hours following a planned C-section to birth the couple’s second son, who survived.

Johnson sued Cedars-Sinai, stating that his wife’s civil rights were violated in being denied healthcare due to her race, “which resulted in her untimely and wrongful death.”

“I am extremely proud that [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] is going forward with this investigation), that they are taking it seriously, and this has been, I think, an extremely long time coming,” Johnson told ABC News. “This investigation is a very important step toward accountability, transparency and, ultimately, an important step in making sure that families from all walks of life receive the safe, dignified, respectful care that they deserve not only in maternal health but healthcare as a whole.”

Watch the premiere of A Mother’s Intuition on Sunday, July 23 at 9P/8C on TV One.

And don’t miss out on a live discussion about Black maternal mortality rates, the treatment of Black mothers giving birth in hospitals and more. Follow TV One on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to find out how to join the conversation.

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