A recent study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that homicide is the leading cause of death in pregnant women and women who are six weeks after giving birth. In fact, homicides more than double the other main causes of maternal mortality.
In many cases, it seems, pregnancy is the cause of the violence. One of the study’s most disturbing findings is that pregnant black women are eight times more likely to be killed by their intimate partner than non-pregnant black women.
It is important to note that the vast majority of these homicides are committed in the homes of these pregnant women. In other words, we are talking about domestic violence, and black women generally experience more domestic violence than white women. The authors speculate that systemic racism may be at the root of these deaths, and in particular that black women are not screened for domestic violence at their medical appointments at the same rate as white women.
“These data highlight broad societal failures,” said Aaron Kivisto, clinical psychologist at the University of Indianapolis and one of the authors. He cited “the perceived racism in antenatal health care encounters, which hinders black women’s access to consistent and quality prenatal care; and increased rates of unintended pregnancies among young black women, which are linked to partner conflict, stress and violence. “
The past few years have seen significant public debate about the high maternal mortality rates among black women overall, which some researchers and policy makers believe is the result of the concerns of black women not being taken seriously by health professionals.
To the extent that this is the case, it must be remedied.
By the way, a woman who works at a domestic violence shelter in Dallas told me that black women may be less likely to seek help because of a sense of shame in telling other people , especially to white people, that they are victims of such violence. . She also noted that black women are sometimes reluctant to call the police because they fear their boyfriends or husbands will be arrested “and then women will have no way to put food on their tables.”
These are all reasonable explanations for the disparities in violence.
But they always leave a nagging, pressing question on why Pregnant Black women are more at risk. In order to understand this disturbing trend and help save lives, we may need to understand why someone would not want a child born.
Children obviously represent a significant change in a relationship between a man and a woman. It is possible that a man does not appreciate this change. So why don’t we see the same kind of difference in the homicide rate among pregnant women from all walks of life?
This is where multi-partner fertility may also be an important data point worthy of further investigation. Census data suggests large demographic disparities in this regard. And added sex partners can increase feelings of jealousy, instability, and potential violence. We know, for example, that children who grow up with an unrelated male are 11 times more likely to experience abuse than children who grow up with both married biological parents. It would not be surprising if the same emotional volatility that makes men dangerous for children who are not biologically related to them also makes these men dangerous for women who bear the children of other men or whom they suspect of having children. children of other men.
Additionally, men of any race who have switched to other partners may view the pregnancy of a previous partner as an obstacle to their new relationship.
While there are many reports in support of this type of investigation – and I think this topic deserves more research to save lives – it is difficult to make definitive statements about the cause of these homicides on the basis of the studies we have seen so far. One of the reasons is the lack of research on the perpetrators of these crimes. Seeing domestic violence as a simple public health crisis rather than the crime that it so clearly blinds us to some important realities.
Of course, it would be great if more women from all walks of life sought help when their relationships got violent. But why does such a high percentage turn violent? Sadly, this kind of blindness about who commits crimes against women – and why – seems to be more common in recent years. The way we speak of “missing and murdered” women in this country suggests that we do not know who is responsible for these tragedies.
However, evidence suggests that women are victimized by those closest to them. And until we understand what drives these crimes and the circumstances – which likely include extramarital births and multi-party fertility – our ability to save the lives of women and children will be significantly hampered.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a contributor to Deseret News and the author of “No way to treat a child: How the foster care system, family courts and racial activists are destroying young lives. “