Discrimination Against Black Women in Reproductive Healthcare

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Pickle, Brooklyn
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Centuries of racial and gender oppression have coalesced into the discrimination against Black women in reproductive healthcare. Since its founding on the plantations of the Antebellum South, American gynecology has viewed Black women as less than human. Despite achievements in the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements, Black women continue to face high rates of maternal morbidity, mortality, and mistreatment in reproductive healthcare settings. The purpose of this study was to determine how discrimination against Black women manifests in reproductive healthcare, to create practical solutions for decreasing this discrimination based on knowledge obtained from Black women, and to potentially inform Black women of the current resources they can utilize to ensure they are receiving non discriminative, quality reproductive healthcare. Qualitative interviews were conducted with six Black women between the ages of twenty-seven and fifty-three who reside in Tennessee. The interviews were conducted to understand their lived experiences as patients and to ascertain ways their experiences in reproductive healthcare can be improved. The data indicate that participants of various backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses experienced discrimination. The participants offered several solutions for improving the quality of care Black women receive as reproductive health patients: training practitioners to be empathetic and culturally conscious toward Black female patients, increasing the numbers of female doctors and doctors of color, and creating a welcoming environment through active listening and engagement with patients. The centering of Black women’s voices in the discussion of improving reproductive healthcare is essential for service improvement.