As Erica Garner Is Mourned, Why Are Black Mothers in New York City Dying at 12 Times Rate of White Mothers?

In Harlem, hundreds of people attended the funeral Monday of anti-police brutality activist Erica Garner, who died at the age of 27 on December 30 after an asthma-induced heart attack, four months after giving birth to her second child. Erica’s father, Eric Garner, was killed when police officers in Staten Island wrestled him to the ground, pinned him down and applied a fatal chokehold in 2014. Her funeral came as a new ProPublica investigation suggests Erica Garner’s postpartum death might be part of a wider national problem in which hospitals are failing African-American mothers, leading to disproportionately high maternal mortality rates. Every year in the United States, between 700 and 900 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. For every woman who dies, dozens more experience severe and sometimes life-threatening complications annually. We speak to Annie Waldman, a reporter at ProPublica. Her most recent article is titled “How Hospitals Are Failing Black Mothers.” The piece is part of a larger year-long ProPublica investigation called “Lost Mothers: Maternal Care and Preventable Deaths.”

TRANSCRIPT

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Harlem, hundreds of people attended the funeral Monday of anti-police brutality activist Erica Garner, who died at the age of 27 on December 30th after an asthma-induced heart attack, four months after giving birth to her second child. Erica’s father, Eric Garner, was killed when police officers in Staten Island wrestled him to the ground, pinned him down and applied a fatal chokehold in 2014. Outside the funeral, Shannon Jones of the anti-police brutality organization Why Accountability read from placards about Erica’s death.

SHANNON JONES: [echoed by the People’s Mic] On December 30th, 2017, Erica died after suffering a heart attack. Erica attributed her failing health to the trauma of racial injustice. A new study of mothers in New York City found that black mothers are 12 times more likely to die than white mothers and that racism…

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