On Saturday, April 14, Reproaction held the first Arkansas screening of Fusion TV Network’s documentary, The Naked Truth: Death by Delivery in Little Rock. Reproaction is working to raise awareness in Arkansas of the alarmingly high maternal and infant mortality rates in the United States. Death by Delivery highlights the high mortality rate for Black mothers who die during or after childbirth four times as often as their white counterparts. Following the screening, attendees came together for a discussion about the reality facing women of color in the United States and the particular disparities in Arkansas.
The group was dynamic and diverse, including educators, students, health professionals, a doula, a lawyer, a local politician, and others working in various areas of advocacy. Everyone expressed their horror at the reality of the racial gap in maternal and infant deaths and complications. One participant who was an economic justice advocate expressed shock that income difference was not the deciding factor in mortality rates for Black women. Another recounted the story of their mother’s own pregnancy complications. The group also discussed implicit bias during clinical encounters as being a significant and under-represented contributor to poor pregnancy outcomes.
The general consensus of the group was that pregnancy support and services are not meeting the needs of Arkansans. Resources to support healthy birth outcomes are inequitably dispersed, often unknown to the people who need them, and difficult to navigate. That’s when the gears began turning for innovation. I was excited that the wide array of perspectives allowed us to tackle solutions at every level from neighborhood-level doula work to insurance reimbursement reform. We brainstormed ideas for comprehensive approaches to pregnancy in Arkansas through a reproductive justice lens.
There’s amazing energy in Arkansas to change the status quo and build a new, holistic framework for addressing reproductive health in Arkansas. Reproaction will continue to work in Arkansas, and we need your help! Sign up now to get involved.