Racial Justice Charter Newsletter: December 2016

Racial Justice Charter Newsletter: December 2016

Questions & Answers on Maternal and Child Health

Q: How is maternal and child health a racial justice issue?

A: About 600 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. That's two to three times more than the number of women who die each year in other developed nations.

Maternal health is a complex issue. According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, maternal health can be affected by the mother's preexisting physical and mental health, age, and access to quality healthcare at all stages of pregnancy. The chances of experiencing life-threatening, pregnancy-related complications also increase for women of low socioeconomic status and for women of color.

African-American women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications, according to a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, even though their chances of having pregnancy-related complications (i.e. hemorrhages, among other complications) are about the same as other American women. Socioeconomic status also plays a role. Women in poor communities are not only more likely to suffer from depression, asthma, obesity and diabetes—all of which are risk factors during and after a pregnancy—but also have less access to prenatal care and the healthcare system in general.

While there is no clear explanation for why the maternal mortality rates are going up now, managing director of research at Amnesty International USA Rachel Ward says it speaks to a larger, systemic issue in the U.S. healthcare system.

"There is sadly no magic bullet that explains what is behind the high levels of maternal mortality in the United States," Ward said in an interview with Al Jazeera. "It's a combination of factors that speak to the systemic problems of failing to provide affordable, accessible, quality health services to all women in the United States."

Click Here. Read the Action Alert: Maternal Deaths on the Rise in the United States

Reflection: Gift at Risk

by Carol Barton, United Methodist Women, Executive for Community Action

They could not believe it. In Flint, Michigan, church and community folks in the majority-Black community had been alarmed when their elected city council was displaced by an administrator, who decided to cut costs by altering the source of drinking water. They raised concerns for two years, as they experienced rashes and other health concerns. Suddenly, the lead poisoning of the Flint public water system hit national news in 2016, and their concerns were confirmed. As news coverage poured out about the water crisis, we learned that the decision to tap into a polluted water source, without paying for needed filters, had caused pipes to leech lead into the water. Yet General Motors, fearing corrosion of their machinery, had their water routed from the original clean source for car production. Officials had refused to admit there was a problem, yet had provided alternate sources of drinking water for their own staff, while ignoring the community. The community has been left with long-term health concerns, particularly for children, and worthless property values. Emergency funding has not yet passed Congress. The message seemed to be that some lives matter while others do not—evidencing race and class hierarchies in our nation.

Advent is a time of holy preparation for the arrival of the Messiah—the one who God promised would come to usher in God's kin-dom. The prophet Isaiah spoke poetically to the vision of that kin-dom—one where everyone could sit beneath their vine and fig tree, at peace, and unafraid. In an agrarian society, Isaiah understood the centrality of water to people's existence and God's hand in making the deserts alive through water. At general conference in May 2016, United Methodist Women and many friends rallied in defense of the human right to safe and clean water. The United Methodist resolution, Protection of Water, brought to general conference by United Methodist Women, observes that, "In the Bible, water in both its physical and spiritual dimensions is a gift. God covenants with God's people and invites them to experience fullness of life. A measure of this abundant life is God's offer of water as a free gift without cost or price (Isaiah 55:1)…Water is an integral part of God's radical expression of God's love to all humanity. Water cannot be monopolized or privatized. It is to be shared like air, light, and earth. It is God's elemental provision for the survival of all God's children on this planet." We are called to act for justice in challenging policies that put this precious gift at risk.

Posted or updated: 12/30/2016 12:00:00 AM

Member Corner

Click Here.United Methodist Women Members Making a Difference for Racial Justice,
by Patricia N. Marks, Deaconess

An interactive seminar on mass incarceration was held in New York City in August.

Click Here.Why United Methodist Women Stands with Standing Rock

Members and staff are providing concrete solidarity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota who are defending their lands against an oil pipeline.

Click Here.Racial Jusice Newsletter

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