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SCOTUS decision on abortion is expected to directly affect Black women

“It is going to be extremely difficult"
Posted at 6:19 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 18:20:15-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “It is going to be extremely difficult. Black woman, brown women are already behind the eight ball,” remarked Alexcia Harrod, Vice President & co-founder, Melinated Moms.

In the last 20 years, the number of women who die in childbirth each year in the U.S. has nearly doubled. In fact, America has higher rates than 45-other countries. But for Black women, they are three times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women.

Alexcia Harrod, Vice President & co-founder, Melinated Moms, mother of three.

That is why some doctors and reproductive health providers are saying the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to ban abortions could have a direct effect on Black women.

Harrod knows what it is like to be a pregnant woman of color. She is the mother of three young children,— Paul, 7, Amina, 4, and 1-year-old Judah.

Alexcia Harrod, Vice President & co-founder, Melinated Moms.

Harrod says Melinated Moms is an organization supporting women of color whether they are on a journey to motherhood or not.

“So if they wanted to go and get an abortion if they don't want to get an abortion — we would be able to provide that support. and that family unit for them,” replied Harrod.

“What is your message to those Supreme Court justices?" Buckley asked.

“My message to the Supreme Court would be — mind your own bodies — let a woman make her own choice,” responded Harrod. “Why can't I have autonomy over what I do with my body.”

“There are some women that shouldn't be pregnant because of their own medical problems,” explained Dr. Vanessa Barnabei.

Dr. Barnabei is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University at Buffalo. She tells me Black women have anywhere from two to five times higher rate of maternal mortality than white women.

Dr. Vanessa Barnabei, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University at Buffalo.

“We’re seeing rising rates of hypertension and diabetes throughout all of our patients, but especially in the Black community,” described Dr. Barnabei.

Dr. Barnabei says the Supreme Court's decision will be very difficult for women of color in states where abortion is now illegal.

“We know that abortion is 90-percent safer — 100-percent safer than being pregnant, right? Pregnancy is a high-risk situation for a lot of women,” reflected Dr. Barnabei.

Health experts some women face very serious health complications that require an abortion.

Dr. Vanessa Barnabei, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, UB.

“An ectopic pregnancy is not a viable pregnancy condition and it is potentially a life-threatening situation,” Dr. Barnabei stated. “We’ve seen providers in our own community who are denying appropriate care to women because their thinking in terms of this is an abortion and it's not it's a life-saving treatment.”

Social-economic factors can also complicate a pregnancy.

“It could just be they might be able to afford it. You know having children is very expensive — with the price of gas, the price of housing, trying to bring another person into the world in these times could be extremely difficult and extremely scary for some women,” noted Harrod.

Alexcia Harrod, Vice President & co-founder, Melinated Moms, plays with her youngest son.

Harrod says for any woman of color in need of support for their pregnancy should contact her organization. It provides a support group every second Saturday free to the community.

Harrod says when she was pregnant the biggest problem she experienced was a lack of listening from providers.

“Not being listened to. “We know our bodies. We know what’s going on. I was in labor and being told that I wasn’t and sent home,” recalled Harrod. “But some providers think women of color can handle pain better than their white counterparts.”

Harrod had her youngest outside the hospital because she couldn’t make it inside in time to give birth.

“I can’t stress enough on that listening piece. If providers would really listen to what Black and Brown women are saying, I think we would eliminate a lot of the issues,” Harrod said.

Dr. Barnabei said there are predictions that in states like Alabama and Mississippi, where the maternal mortality rate is already the highest in the country there could be a “dramatic increase” in maternal mortality where abortion is banned.

“I really hope we don't see it. I’m really scared that we will,” Dr. Barnabei reflected.

In New York State where abortion is allowed, Dr Barnabei said she is expecting an influx of women arriving for help.