Friday, June 10 2022
Image for article titled Sen.  Bill Cassidy: Louisiana's maternal mortality rate is only bad if you include black women

Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool (Getty Images)

Louisiana has one of worst maternal mortality rate in the country: It ranks 47th out of the 48 states assessed, according to state officials. But U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, one of two white Republican senators representing the state, says that’s only because Louisiana’s statistics include black women.

“About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So if you correct our population for race, we’re not as outlier as they would be appear otherwise”, Cassidy said in an interview with POLITICO. “Now I say that not to downplay the problem, but to focus it on where it would be. For some reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.

First, yes, black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts in Louisiana (three times more likely nationally), because our medical system is deeply racist. And speaking of racism: I can’t really think of a more racist thing to say than “if you correct our population for race” in this context. He’s basically saying that black women’s lives don’t matter – as long as the maternal mortality rate for white women in Louisiana isn’t that bad, you’re fine.

Cassidy’s attitude is exactly why doctors tend to dismiss the pain black patients, and why pregnant and postpartum black women are 243 percent more likely to die during childbirth or pregnancy-related conditions than white women. And it’s not just low-income mothers: even rich and famous black women, like Serena Williams, have poignant stories to be ignored and rejected by healthcare providers because of the color of their skin – so much so that women of color have their own #MeToo moment right now, massively sharing their heartbreaking stories in the hope that anyone in power cares.

Of course, no one is surprised to learn that Cassidy is racist. He opposes a federal suffrage bill and says NPR that black people in Louisiana were disproportionately dying of covid in the state for “physiological” reasons – not because of systemic racial bias in the medical system.

I guess, by Cassidy’s logic, the United States would be a much less racist country if you didn’t count white people.


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