In the United States, black women are nearly four times more likely to die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes than white women. (Reuters / Brian Snyder)

Serena Williams Could Insist That Doctors Listen to Her. Most Black Women Can’t.

January 19, 2018

Last week, the world got to learn a little bit more about pro-tennis player Serena Williams’s experience giving birth to baby girl Alexis Olympia, through her interview with Vogue magazine. That little bit is now shining a big spotlight on the American health-care system and the hurdles and dangers women face bringing life into the world.

Williams delivered Alexis Olympia by emergency C-section after the baby’s heart rate declined. All was well until the next day, when Williams felt short of breath. She immediately brought this to the attention of her care providers and requested a CT scan because of her history of pulmonary embolism—that is, blood clots in her lungs—but they thought her pain medication was making her confused. Nonetheless, she was able to insist on a CT scan and get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


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