I saw a patient last week who came in for an abortion very early in pregnancy. She has four children already—three are at home and her fourth, four months old, was still in the neonatal intensive care unit. Her last baby was born two months early, before his lungs were fully mature, and he was still needing oxygen and support to breath.
With all of her efforts focused on parenting her kids at home and spending as much time as possible with her baby in the hospital, my patient knew that there was no way she and her family could support another child.
Racial and ethnic differences in preterm birth rates, prenatal care, and access to contraception make it much more likely that she, as an African American woman, would find herself in this situation. I’m glad that our clinic was there for this patient to walk in and get an abortion and birth control the same day, so that she could go back to visiting her baby in the hospital.
And we, as a society and health care system, need to do so much more to reduce these disparities so that African American women and their babies have the same chance of surviving and thriving as their white counterparts.