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95 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1229 (2020)
Racial Disparities in Maternal Mortality

handle is hein.journals/nylr95 and id is 1228 raw text is: 













NEW YORK UNIVERSITY


        LAW REVIEW


VOLUME 95                     NOVEMBER 2020                        NUMBER 5




                             ARTICLES


      RACIAL DISPARITIES IN MATERNAL

                            MORTALITY


                            KHIARA   M.  BRIDGES*


    Racial disparities in maternal mortality have recently become a popular topic, with
    a host of media outlets devoting time and space to covering the appalling state of
    black maternal health in the country. Congress responded to this increased societal
    awareness by passing the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act at the tail end of 2018.
    The law provides states twelve million dollars annually, for five years, to fund
    maternal mortality review commissions interdisciplinary collections of experts
    that evaluate and investigate the causes of every maternal death in a jurisdiction.
    Fascinatingly, although activists, journalists, politicians, scholars, and other com-
    mentators understand that the maternal health tragedy in the United States is a
    racial tragedy, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act completely ignores race. Indeed,
    the term race does not appear anywhere in the text of the statute. The irony is
    striking: An effort to address a phenomenon that has become salient because of its
    racial nature ignores race entirely.

    The racial irony embodied by the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act serves as an
    invitation to investigate not only the Act itself, but the national conversation that is
    currently taking place about racial disparities in maternal deaths. Indeed, in impor-
    tant respects, if the general discourse that surrounds racial disparities in maternal
    mortality is impoverished, then we should expect that the solutions that observers
    propose will be impoverished as well. This is precisely what this Article discovers.
    The analysis proceeds in four Parts.


    * Copyright © 2020 by Khiara M. Bridges, Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of
Law. I am grateful to Yuvraj Joshi, Rosie Loring, and Russell Robinson for reading and
critiquing earlier drafts. Thanks are also owed to participants at faculty workshops
at Emory University School of Law, Florida State University College of Law, and the
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, who engaged so generously with
this piece. Thanks also to Simone Lieban Levine and Hayley MacMillen for truly excep-
tional research assistance. And thank you to mijn perfecte echtgenoot, Gert Reynaert, for
breaking the love scale. All errors remain my own.

                                      1229


Imaged  with Permission   of N.Y.U. Law  Review

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