Doctors and nurses are not racists. They’re everyday heroes. But left-wing activists and their media allies, including The New York Times, blame health care workers for the poorer health outcomes of Black patients. That’s a cheap shot and a lie.
On Sunday, the Times published a front-page story based on an analysis of U.S. census data showing that Black women die during childbirth or lose their newborns more often than white women. Even affluent Black women and their babies die at higher rates. Money doesn’t insulate them from worse health outcomes.
The actual analysis didn’t blame racism for what happens to Black mothers, or include any evidence – not a shred – that doctors and nurses caring for pregnant women and newborns are racist.
Even so, the Times pushed the conclusion that higher death rates are the “effects of racism” because minority mothers are “treated differently and given different access to interventions.” That’s false.
What is to blame? Obesity, early teen pregnancy and hypertension (high blood pressure) are major causes of the higher deaths rates. These problems demand our attention.
But many activists would rather exploit the race card for political gain rather than deal with the causes of these deaths. New York State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett is one of them. Urging support for national reparations, Basset argues that reparations “can bring us closer” to “end(ing) racial health inequities.” That’s ridiculous.
A Zoom presentation sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York and the Rochester Black Nurses Association accused nurses of deliberately not answering the call buttons of Black patients and warned about “KKK in the hospitals.”
Falsehoods like these could scare Black women from getting the prenatal and postpartum care they need and currently fail to seek.
The New York Times article never mentions the actual causes of infant mortality, starting with obesity. A baby born to an obese mother faces a 55% higher risk of dying within a year, according to National Vital Statistics. Obesity is most prevalent among the Black population.
Teen pregnancy is the other major infant killer. Black and Hispanic teens are more than twice as likely to give birth as white teens. Unfortunately, teens often don’t seek prenatal care. They also lack the pelvic structure to carry babies to term, so their babies tend to be born prematurely. “Reflecting these increased risk factors, infants born to women of color are at higher risk for mortality compared to those born to White women,” reports the Kaiser Family Foundation.
That so many of these prematurely born infants survive is a testament to the expertise and unbiased heroism of doctors and nurses working in the OB-GYN services who do everything in their power to save them, expending enormous resources in the process.
Still, nearly 44,000 infants die in their first year of life. By comparison, the official maternal mortality death figure is 861 per year.
Maternal mortality is being hyped as a “crisis” by the Biden administration and liberal media. The White House announced a “whole-of-government approach” to combatting it. In fact, it’s a small problem. Of course, even one mother dying is tragic. But compare 861 maternal deaths to the 99,000 patients who die yearly from hospital-acquired infections.
Health care professionals have more urgent tasks than being indoctrinated with anti-racism.
Yet the Biden administration is requiring doctors paid by Medicare to show a “commitment to anti-racism” and submit an “anti-racism plan” or be penalized with lower payments. The Medicare rule, found in the Federal Register, Nov. 19, 2021, at page 65,969, actually parrots Ibram X. Kendi’s concept in his book “How to Be an Antiracist” that the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination and prioritizing certain populations.
Does that mean doctors must give white, Asian and Hispanic patients less time and fewer referrals to specialists? Such ideas have no place in medicine.
This push for anti-racism in medicine will not save the lives of Black infants or their mothers. Doctors and nurses will, doing what they always do, treating each patient with respect, regardless of skin color. They are heroes.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey.
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