Black Maternal Health Week 2024 – ‘Our Bodies STILL Belong to US: Reproductive Justice NOW!’

15 April, 2024


SRHM stands in solidarity with an initiative founded by Black Mamas Matter Alliance, to raise awareness and action in improving Black maternal health. April 11-17 each year is celebrated as Black Maternal Health Week. The theme for this year is ‘Our Bodies STILL Belong to Us: Reproductive Justice NOW!’, which seeks to bring attention to the recent political changes in several states in the United States, where strict bans on abortion have been implemented. Not surprisingly, these are states in the USA with the worst maternal and child health outcomes as well, especially for Black birth givers and children.

While the initiative was founded with a US-specific focus, it also calls attention to the global political context surrounding race, privilege, power, geopolitics,  and maternal health. It is related to the fact that  Sub-Saharan women experience the highest maternal mortality in the world, at approximately 200,000 maternal deaths a year, while in the global North, for example in the United Kingdom and the United States, Black women are 4 times more likely to die due to pregnancy-related complications than white women (

Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests that while abortion bans harm all women, the negative implications are much more pronounced for people of colour. Most people who have abortions are not White, according to the CDC data (

There is an imminent need for new policies, and private and public insurance, for improved maternal, child, and sexual and reproductive health for Black women in particular contexts and addressing racial inequalities worldwide.

SRHM aims to actively publish studies and analyses on maternal health, access to safe abortion access, the status of sexual and reproductive health, that represent the needs and rights of all women, with special attention to the most marginalised and those that are facing disclination on the ground of race and other personal status.

In a 2023 article published in the SRHM journal, ‘We bawl so we are heard: the stories we must tell about obstetric racism’, the author Rochelle Maurice recounts how in her family, women were told to scream as loudly as possible when in labour, so as to gain as much attention and care as they could, since obstetric racism was prevalent where she grew up. Black women have been historically subjected to racism, abuse, and violence, hence receiving less than ideal maternal care. Although efforts to tackle anti-Black racism in healthcare have increased over time through medical education and discussions on the challenges Black people face in healthcare, there are limited documented efforts and data to address these on a large scale.

Another paper published in 2022, ‘“I don’t regret it at all. It’s just I wish the process had a bit more humanity to ita bit more holistic”: a qualitative, community-led medication abortion study with Black and Latinx Women in Georgia, USA, highlights how traditional family planning interventions have largely excluded Black and Latinx women, and that little is known about medical abortion access and services in these communities. Equitable medical abortion access for Black communities, especially in the post-Roe v. Wade era, will only be possible with multi-level interventions which are based on community-led evidence, holistic and human rights-based care models, and intersectional reproductive justice policies.

Please find below some papers relevant to the topic published in the SRHM journal:


Obstetric violence in the United States and other high-income countries: an integrative review

Garcia, L.M.


We bawl so we are heard: the stories we must tell about obstetric racism

Maurice, R.


I don’t regret it at all. It’s just I wish the process had a bit more humanity to ita bit more holistic”: a qualitative, community-led medication abortion study with Black and Latinx Women in Georgia, USA

Mosley, E. A., Ayala, S., Jah, Z., et al.

Understanding the role of race in abortion stigma in the United States: a systematic scoping review

Brown, K., Laverde, R., Barr-Walker, J., & Steinauer, J. 

Global impacts of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and abortion regression in the United States

Kaufman, R., Brown, R., Martínez Coral, C., et al.


Slowing progress: the US Global Gag Rule undermines access to contraception in Madagascar

Ravaoarisoa, L., Razafimahatratra, M. J. J., Rakotondratsara, M. A., et al.


Disrespect and abuse in childbirth in Brazil: social activism, public policies and providers’ training

Grilo Diniz, C. S., Rattner, D., Lucas d’Oliveira, A. F. P., et al.


Inequality, Zika epidemics, and the lack of reproductive rights in Latin America

González Vélez, A. C., & Diniz, S. G. 


Human rights accountability for maternal death and failure to provide safe, legal abortion: the significance of two ground-breaking CEDAW decisions

Kismödi, E., de Mesquita, J. B., Ibañez, X. A., et al.


Misclassified Maternal Deaths among East African Immigrants in Sweden

Elebro, K., Rööst, M., Moussa, K., et al.