HEALTH

Why Black Women Can't Even Have a Miscarriage in Peace in This Country

In heartbreaking case of Britanny Watts, prosecutors cast blame

Allison Wiltz
Published in
6 min readDec 3, 2023

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AI-generated Photo of a Black woman as the sun sets | Photo created by the author using CANVA

When Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent that established women's reproductive rights for fifty years, came crashing down, Black women knew they would be the group most impacted by the Supreme Court's decision. Already, Black women were three times as likely as White women to die during childbirth, and this is true regardless of their income and level of education. This disparity, which experts say is the byproduct of racism in the healthcare system, makes pregnancy exceedingly dangerous for Black women. Depriving them of reproductive rights only compounded the issue because not only are Black women more likely to die of complications related to childbirth, but now that choice is less likely to be in their hands.

Black women warned when the precedent fell that the sky was falling, but not enough people in positions of power took heed. Now that many of these new state laws are in effect, Black women are not only at a higher risk of maternal mortality but can be held criminally liable if something goes wrong during their pregnancy. At this point, women are not being treated as human beings but as incubators who have a legal obligation to carry a pregnancy to term, despite the risks to the mother or the viability of the fetus. Last year, after a trigger law went into effect in Louisiana, a Black woman, Nancy Davis, was “forced to carry fetus missing skull to term or travel to Florida for abortion.” This is cruel and unusual punishment, but it’s happening right here in America.

The heartbreaking case of Brittany Watts

A prosecutor charged a 33-year-old Black woman, Brittany Watts, with one felony count, "abuse of a corpse," in Warren, Ohio, after having a miscarriage at home last week. The government is sending an awful message by charging Watts with a crime, that miscarriages are the fault of the expectant mother and will be perceived as an intentional effort to terminate a pregnancy. Approximately one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first trimester, and this is typically not something that a woman has control over. And once you realize that Black…

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Allison Wiltz
Momentum

Womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder allisonthedailywriter.com https://ko-fi.com/allyfromnola