'Mother Of Authentic Midwifery' Ina May Gaskin Implies Racial Slur Against Pregnant Black Women

By Olivia Etienne, Parent Herald May 06, 10:23 pm
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A steady amount of research proved that black maternal deaths are caused by society's prejudice among women of color. PICTURED: Sanai Melancon is held by her mother Erica Jacobs in the B.W. Cooper housing projects May 24, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The country's renowned midwife, Ina May Gaskin, sparked controversy after she implicitly said that more black women suffer during pregnancy and post-partum due to their own bad behaviors. Gaskin, known as the mother of authentic midwifery, said the gaffe during a birth seminar in Fort Worth, Texas.

High infant and maternal death rates long plagued the United States healthcare. Numerous research already proved that the primary cause of this cannot be fully blamed to black women.

Yet, Gaskin said that more black women and infants die during childbirth due to maternal drug use, whether it's prescription or illegal drugs. During the seminar, Gaskin failed to acknowledge that the research-proven cause of these deaths is racial prejudice, similar to hers, which stressed pregnant women of color.

The controversy stirred resentment from the Black community, Yes Magazine reported. The report also said that black birth workers revolted more against Gaskin as they pushed to boycott the veteran on all of her events.

For the longest time until the 1920s, black women gave birth to both white and children of color. Known as the "granny midwives," these women were historically significant among Southern families until The Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921 took the credibility away from these midwives.

The law inhibited the granny midwives from their profession as it labeled them uneducated and unclean. In exchange, they promoted mainstream birthing care, which in the modern times developed to be more likely against black women than white.

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As previously reported, studies confirmed that black mothers faced higher chances of death because of deprived access to education and adequate healthcare. Black babies, too, were more likely to die compared to their white counterparts due to preterm labor normally caused by maternal stress.

When she mentioned her solution to the problem, Rewire reported that Gaskin advised the importance of hard work, particularly, growing their own food that can make their eating habits better. She also said these women should be responsible, knowing the risks they carry as pregnant women.

Gaskin also discussed the effects of drug use and doing a prayer as a way of destressing. The midwife might not outspokenly blasted black pregnant women but her "solutions" gave an idea of how she viewed people of color.

What do you think of Gaskin's opinion about black maternal pregnancy? Share to us your thoughts by commenting below!

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