On Wednesday, August 13, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination begins a two-day review of the United States government’s efforts, or lack thereof, to address pervasive racial discrimination in law and practice. When the United States ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1994, it consented to a periodic review by human rights experts of its progress toward meeting the goals in the treaty. The last time such a review was conducted was 2008, when the committee expressed specific concern about persistent and worsening disparities in sexual, reproductive, and maternal health in the United States—particularly for Black women—and offered recommendations about how the country could reduce those disparities.
It’s no secret that Black women are more likely than others to experience negative maternal health outcomes, such as preterm birth or stillbirth, to suffer from conditions like preeclampsia, and to die at higher rates from pregnancy-related causes. A new shadow report, Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care, by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective shares some alarming data on maternal health outcomes as well as disturbing firsthand accounts of the racial discrimination experienced by Black women.