Dick Durbin: ‘We Can and We Must Do More to Protect Women of Color and Their Babies’

By CNSNews.com Staff | April 17, 2020 | 5:29pm EDT
Sen. Dick Durbin at the infant Welfare Society of Chicago, July 19, 2004. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Sen. Dick Durbin at the infant Welfare Society of Chicago, July 19, 2004. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.), the Senate Democratic Whip, sent out a pair of tweets on Thursday recognizing “Black Maternal Health Week” and expressing his commitment to supporting the health of African American mothers and their babies.

“In the U.S., African American women are still 2.5x more likely than white women to die as a result of pregnancy,” Durbin said in the first tweet. “That is unacceptable.

“We can & must do more to protect women of color & their babies,” Durbin said. “I remain committed to doing everything I can to protect black maternal health.”

The second tweet Durbin sent out included a video clip of him delivering a message stating his support for African American mothers.

“This year,” Durbin said in the text of the tweet, “Black Maternal Health Week comes at a time when devastating racial disparities in our nation’s health care system are on full display, amplified by the outsized impact that #COVID19 is having on African American communities in Illinois & across the country.”

“In the City of Chicago, we found that if you are infected with the coronavirus as an African American you are six times more likely to die than a white person,” Durbin said in the video clip attached to the tweet. 

“We also know, across the United States, for the longest period of time we have had unacceptable levels of mothers—African American mothers—dying in childbirth, not to mention the infant mortality issue,” Durbin said.

“In this great nation at this moment in history, how can we explain that black mothers are so much more vulnerable and die in childbirth at rates we only see in developing countries around the world,” he said.

In 2016, the latest year reported by the CDC, there were a total of 623,471 abortions in the 48 jurisdictions that reported their numbers to the CDC. (California, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia did not.) Illinois had 38,382 abortions—or 249 for every 1,000 babies who were born alive in the state.

Illinois did not report its abortions by race, but of the 362,246 abortions in the United States in 2016 that were reported by race to the CDC, 137,510—or 38.0 percent—were black. By comparison, 126,841—or 35.0 percent—were white.

Here is a transcript of the videoclip that Durbin tweeted out:

Sen. Dick Durbin: "April 11 through April 17 is Black Maternal Health Week and it comes at a moment when we realize the disparity in health care in America. In the City of Chicago, we found that if you are infected with the coronavirus as an African American you are six times more likely to die than a white person.

"We also know, across the United States, for the longest period of time we have had unacceptable levels of mothers—African American mothers—dying in childbirth, not to mention the infant mortality issue. In this great nation at this moment in history, how can we explain that black mothers are so much more vulnerable and die in childbirth at rates we only see in developing countries around the world. In the Senate Democratic caucus, we are focused on this virus, of course, but we are also focused on health-care outcomes for minorities, particularly for African Americans when it comes to bearing children, when it comes to fighting this virus. We can do more.

"Let’s make sure that at the end of the day we have a health-care system for the 21st Century that is colorblind. That treats people black, white and brown the same and has the same level of outcomes. To do that, we have to work together. The Democrats want to lead that battle. I hope to be part of it, and I hope to make it a reality that health-care in America is colorblind.”

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