Members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority gather at the statehouse to highlight black maternal health

Studies have shown black women die at a higher rate than white women. For that reason, members of the AKA sorority came to the statehouse to highlight the issues.
AKA's at the statehouse.png
Posted at 7:48 PM, Mar 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 19:48:15-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has the third worst maternal mortality rate in the country according to IU Health. Studies have shown black women die at a higher rate than white women. For that reason, members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority came to the statehouse to highlight the issues.

"Two of the things we are highlighting this year, as we come back to every state capitol across all 50 states, is the idea of maternal health and suicide, " Kiahna Davis, the Central Regional Director of AKA Inc., said.

Maternal mortality is a big issue and according to experts it keeps getting worse.

"The statistics are alarming. Black women are dying at a much higher rate than non-black women and we know that to be true, " Dr. Tovah Buikema, the Director of maternal fetal medicine for Ascension of Indiana, said.

2020 data shows black women have a mortality ratio that is about 93% higher than their white counterparts. That's why the AKA sorority is shining a light on the issue by writing letters to their legislators and speaking with them at the statehouse. But for AKA’s like Davis, she knows the issues first hand.

"I went into early labor, and no one believed me,” Davis said. “So it lead to a very difficult pregnancy because at that point, I only got care when I went to the emergency room. Three times. I was sent home three times because no one in the hospital believed me."

Davis delivered her daughter early, but had to continue to advocate for herself to do so safely.

"When you take yourself out of that eco system and realize my life and my daughter’s life is in jeopardy, you start asking some questions,” Davis said. “Does everyone receive this treatment? Why did I receive this treatment? Sometimes we walk away thinking maybe it's me, and unfortunately if you look at the data, it wasn't me. "

According to a paper published by the New England Journal of Medicine that tracked implicit bias in health care, close to 49% of U.S. medical students surveyed reported having been exposed to negative comments about black patients by physicians. That's why doctors say it's important to speak up if you feel something is wrong.

"The maternal instinct is real and you really have to advocate for yourself. Nobody is going to advocate for you or your child. I tell my mom’s that all the time, " Dr. Buikema said.

The leading cause of death for pregnant women in Indiana is drug overdoses. That's followed by homicide, vehicle crashes, and suicide. The two major healthcare issues pregnant women face are sepsis and diseases related to the heart. That's all according to the state of Indiana’s annual Maternal Mortality Review.