A new report suggests black women are almost four times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than white people – and Christian MPs are calling on the government to take action.
The Women and Equalities Select Committee – which a number of Christian politicians are a part of – is urging the government to stop “underestimating” racism in maternity care.
The report suggests black women are 3.7 times more likely to die during childbirth, and Asian woman are 1.8 times more likely.
The stark statistics are lower than they were 20 years ago, but show there is still significant work to be done.
Bell Ribiero-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham and a member of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, told Premier Christian News that racism appears to be the reason pregnancy is more dangerous for women from minority ethnic groups.
She said: ”All of the evidence points quite specifically to that.
“There are other issues, like a lack of continuity of care and under resourcing in maternity services altogether.
“We have a situation now where for every 30 midwives trained, 29 end up leaving the profession.
“How can you run a world class maternity service on something like that?
"Our midwives are clearly under strain and institutional racism is rife, which is why we're seeing black women being four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth, and Asian women two times more likely.
“Not just that, black babies have a 50 per cent increased risk of being miscarried, and a 121 per cent increased risk of stillbirth.
“The government claim that the figures are not high enough to set a target.
“I say to them, tell those that have lost family members because of the shocking disparity that those figures are not high enough and see what they have to say to you.
“It's clear that we need a target to bring it to the end and proper measures to do so.”
However, despite her frustration at the ongoing racial disparity in childbirth mortality, she said: “Those figures are shocking, but even with those, I understand that the UK is still a safe place in the world to give birth.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "While the NHS is already one of the safest places to give birth in the world, we are absolutely clear that we must ensure maternity care is of the same high standard, regardless of race.
"We've invested £165 million since 2021 to grow the maternity workforce and are promoting careers in midwifery with an extra 3,650 training places per year, while every local NHS maternity system has a plan in place to tackle disparities on a local level.
"The Maternity Disparities Taskforce - a collective of mothers, clinicians and key organisations - is being chaired today by Minister Maria Caulfield to focus on how we can eradicate disparities and improve maternity outcomes for all mothers."