Maternal Complications Lawyers Representing the Black Community

In the United States, it’s estimated that 60 percent of maternal complications are preventable. When you look at the data and see that Black women are 3–4 times as likely to die of pregnancy-related causes as white women — with this disparity spiking as high as 12 times the likelihood in areas of vast inequality like New York City — it’s easy to see where this prevention should start.

Unfortunately, the barriers to access and the systemic discrimination rampant throughout the healthcare system have only made these disparities grow. Although these issues cut across education and income levels, it doesn’t help that Black women earn 21 percent less than white women on average, and 39 percent less than white men. This has led a lower level of health insurance access and a decreased likelihood of Black women getting the pregnancy-related healthcare they need for a successful pregnancy.

When these systemic boundaries combine with the medical negligence and malpractice that is statistically more likely to affect Black women, the result can be deadly, as thousands of Black mothers and families already know.


Which Maternal Complications Should Your Doctor Be Looking For?

Driving the 42.8 deaths per 100,000 live births that Black American women experience — far above the 13 deaths per 100,000 of white American women and more in line with less developed countries like Turkmenistan — are undiagnosed conditions and risk factors which can pose risk for both mother and baby. 

Good doctors should be watchful of the following conditions, which have a greater propensity for Black women:

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure occurs in Black women over the age of 20 at around one-and-a-half times the rate of white women
  • Preeclampsia: This potentially dangerous condition involves high blood pressure along with damage to essential organs like the kidneys and kills Black women at 3 times the rate of white women
  • Fibroids: These benign tumors that form in or on the uterus can lead to many maternal complications, and occur at about twice the rate for Black women as they do for white women
  • Gestational diabetes: This condition occurs when someone who didn’t previously have diabetes develops it during pregnancy, which can lead to hypertension
  • Peripartum cardiomyopathy: Also called PPCM, this relatively rare form of heart failure is 3–4 more likely for Black women than white women
  • Postpartum hemorrhage: This severe blood loss after giving birth is life-threatening at nearly 5 times the rate for Black women as it is for white women
  • Preterm births: Premature births correlate strongly with low birth weights and other birth complications, and have a 50 percent higher prevalence in Black women as in white women
  • Postpartum depression and anxiety: These pregnancy-related mental health issues can cause special harm for Black women due to discrimination embedded in the birth-giving process

How Medical Negligence and Malpractice Can Worsen Pregnancy Outcomes

The CDC recognizes that the burden put on Black women by the American health establishment constitutes a public health emergency, and has recommended steps to counter the systematically inadequate treatment that Black women receive. But most of these steps have long been legally part of the standard of care accorded to pregnant women, and it speaks to how rampant the basic disregard for good medical rigor is in the treatment of Black mothers-to-be.

If your doctor or healthcare provider fails to do the following, it may be indicative of medical negligence. If this negligence leads to an injury, it may qualify as malpractice.

Doctors must:

  •  Help patients manage chronic conditions which can lead to birth complications, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity
  • Communicate with patients about risk factors and warning signs
  • Use proper methodology to flag warning signs and apply tests throughout a pregnancy, so women can receive timely treatment

Hospitals and healthcare systems should:

  •  Identify and address unconscious bias in healthcare
  • Standardize coordination of care and response to emergencies
  • Improve delivery of quality prenatal and postpartum care

Source:, shared under a CC0 license

When to Consult with a Lawyer Experienced in Discrimination

Lee Merritt, Esq. is a longtime leader and influential voice in the fight for Social Justice, representing high-profile civil rights cases like that of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man recently shot and killed while jogging in Georgia. 

A dedicated civil rights activist and trial attorney, Mr. Merritt runs a distinguished national practice focusing on victims of police brutality, hate crimes and corporate discrimination. As an activist, he has championed police reform and community empowerment. His office has led the way to reform in Texas, a state notorious for its failure to prosecute police officers, successfully advocating for the first murder indictments of officers in the state in over 40 years.

There are many more battles to fight on behalf of the 22 percent of Black women who report discrimination in their medical care. For a free consultation please fill out our form, write [email protected] or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.


About S. Lee Merritt

Civil Rights Lawyer

Lee Merritt, Esq. is emerging as a leading and influential new voice in the fight for Social Justice. A dedicated civil rights activist and trial attorney, Merritt runs a high profile national practice focusing on victims of police brutality, hate crimes and corporate discrimination. As an activist, he has championed police reform and community empowerment. 

Do you need more information or want to help? 

Our organization can help mothers and their families who have faced medical issues during pregnancy learn about the resources available to them, as well as learn about what action they may be able to take legally due to discriminatory health practices.  Contact us below by email or phone and our team can learn more about your situation and give you free and friendly advice.

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