It’s a no-brainer that women of color often don’t receive a high standard of health care in the United States, but it’s not often that the United Nations chimes in on that fact:
[O]ne day before International Women’s Day, a United Nations committee expressed concern about “wide racial disparities” in sexual and reproductive health in the United States. The Committee was responding to pervasive and dramatic disparities between the reproductive health of women of color and white women…
The Committee’s conclusions were issued at the close of a two-week session in Geneva, Switzerland, during which it reviewed the U.S.’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a human rights treaty which requires that countries take pro-active measures to address racial inequalities. It was no surprise that during the session the U.S. was grilled about the persistence of racial segregation in public schools, the dismantling of affirmative action, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Some of their findings:
African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, 23 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS and 14 times more likely to die from the disease. American-Indian/Alaskan Native women are over 5 times more likely than white women to have chlamydia and over 7 times more likely to contract syphilis. The unplanned pregnancy rate among Latinas is twice the national average; and Latinas are much more likely to contract human papillomavirus, the infection that leads to cervical cancer.
More young African-American females and Latinas than white women are given abstinence-only instruction in school, instead of comprehensive sex education. This means they aren’t taught about contraceptive use to prevent pregnancy or protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Abstinence-only programs have proven ineffective, and in some cases counter-productive, but every year the government has increased their funding dramatically, now totaling $176 million annually. Although the U.S. has the resources to reduce maternal deaths and has acknowledged the importance of prenatal care to prevent them, it has adopted policies which force women to delay pregnancy-related care or forego it altogether. Unreasonable requirements for Medicaid like the 5-year bar on benefits for legal residents prevent many immigrant women from receiving even basic services.
The Committe recommended that, ” In order to address these needs, the Committee recommended that the U.S.: (1) improve access to pre- and post-natal care, including by eliminating eligibility barriers to Medicaid, (2) facilitate access to contraceptive and family planning methods, (3) provide adequate sexual education aimed at the prevention of unintended pregnancies and STIs.
Yeah, good luck with that (especially the sex ed bit)…