NJ First Lady holds discussion on racial disparities in maternal health care

New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — The statistics are stark and alarming.

In New Jersey, a Black mother is seven times more likely to die from maternal complications. A Black infant is three times more likely than a white baby to die in the first year of life.

It’s a disparity New Jersey’s First Lady Tammy Murphy wants to fix.

“I have seen New Jerseyans respond with shock and outrage,” Murphy said Thursday. “All with a determination to raise up the collective plea for racial justice through reproductive justice.”

Murphy says it’s a call to action not just in the Garden State but nationwide. She took part in a virtual forum Thursday to address eliminating racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality

The discussion shed light on the systemic racism and implicit bias when pregnant Black and Brown women go to seek help as they are experiencing medical problems.

When it comes to maternal and infant health outcomes, research shows the disparities are not rooted in genes or behavior but rather in the historic, social and economic environments experienced by women of color. It is an issue beyond their bodies.

New Jersey has unveiled a plan to tackle this problem that includes increasing prenatal care, providing toxic-free affordable housing, declaring racism as a public health crisis and focusing on health early on.

“Healthy girls grow up to be healthy women and ultimately, healthy moms,” said Murphy.

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