If You Want Black Women to Have Fewer Abortions, Take Care of Us

by Ambreia Meadows-Fernandez

Today is the annual celebration of my choice to give birth to my most precious gift. It’s been a year filled with mountainous highs and extreme lows. But for me, this first year has made something crystal clear—parenthood is a choice not to be taken lightly, and it comes with lots of risks. In the United States, pregnancy and childbirth are becoming increasingly dangerous for women of color

The United States is the only developed nation with a rising maternal mortality rate. There has been a 26.6% increase in maternal mortality between 2000 and 2014.

Certain groups of women are less likely to get early prenatal care: Poor, black, Hispanic, unmarried, lacking a high-school diploma and teens. A major factor is whether the pregnancy is unplanned.
The healthcare system really let me down during the birth of my first child. That experience taught me the importance of access to quality care. Many days, y’all see me post pictures of my happy smiling chub. But things weren’t always this way.

Right before he was born, we found out he had severe hydronephrosis. The doctors believed he had one completely nonfunctioning kidney and another hardly functioning one.
As a result, we had to deliver at a hospital two hours away and things didn't get better fast. In addition to his kidney concerns, he couldn't keep any food down for the first three or four days of his life. He was small and losing weight fast. There were many times I couldn't hold him as close as I wanted because he was connected to so many wires. I would always say, "I just wish I had a wireless baby." But we kept fighting.

He didn't latch on for the first time until he was one month old. I was stressed and emotionally and physically weak. We found out soon after it was because I had left over placenta in my body for six weeks. It made me very sick, and had I not left for Texas to get quality health care, I could have died. My health improved post-D&C, but I was left with a portion of the medical bill.

If I were not married to a member of the armed forces, both my sons and my own medical bills would have broken us; possibly for life. Luckily, he is now believed to have two functioning kidneys but we have to drive two hours to the nearest quality hospital every three months to get ultrasounds done to check their status.

If I hadn't gone to La Leche meetings since I was 6 months pregnant, the desire to breastfeed could have easily broken me. Depression could have taken over my life and Salem could have lost a mom. Luckily, we had insurance to cover counseling for my post-birth trauma.
And if I didn't have resources to travel to Texas to have checked the symptoms the Cheyenne hospital said were nonthreatening, I likely would have died.

With the potential repeal of the ACA, there are many who will be in my shoes with health complications for both mom and baby. But they won’t be fortunate enough to get the services they deserve. The maternal mortality rate will continue to rise.

In the US, Black women have a maternal mortality rate of 41 per 100,000 and climbing as compared to a rate of 12 per 100,000 experienced by White women.

And our Infant mortality rate isn’t much better. As stated in a previous article,

“Black children have the highest infant mortality rate with 11 deaths per 1000 births, according to Infant Mortality Statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2013. That is a very high figure when compared to the Asian American rate of 4 per 1,000 and the non-Hispanic White rate of 5 per 1,000. While that data was collected in 2013, one cannot help but wonder if anything has changed.”

I wanted my son, but imagine if I were less prepared. Imagine if I had an unexpected pregnancy with no insurance, sub-par healthcare and no support.

I made the CHOICE to have my son, but for a woman in a different position this may not have been feasible.

If you want abortions to end, fix the many factors that cause moms to seek them. Fight for quality sex-ed, healthcare access, and a supportive new mom network. Had I chosen to give birth a little earlier there could be two casualties—my son and myself.

Impulsive yet shockingly well-prepared, Ambreia Meadows-Fernandez has a tendency to take leaps and land on her feet. She is passionate about breastfeeding, social justice, and her family. A military spouse and mother who's just waiting to see what is next in life. See more of Ambreia at her writer's page and website

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