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Higher Rates of Unplanned Pregnancies in Black Women



Happy Black History Month! Let’s dive into gaps in Black female sexual health which connects intersectionality with Black History Month. Did you know 50% of pregnancies are unplanned but those rates are even higher for Black women? Crazy right? Higher than 50%!? Why? There are sooo many reasons why Black women experience higher rates of unplanned pregnancy, the easiest explanation being they are the least likely group to use birth control. Black women aged 15-49 are less likely than any other racial group to regularly use birth control. The reasons for this run deep.


Black women face many structural and social barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare. Due to inequity, racial discrimination can affect birth control access. Quality medical care and health insurance can be of high cost and due to structural racism, Black women are less likely to be able to afford effective forms of birth control. 



With the negative history between people of colour and governmental experiments, medical mistrust is a huge issue in the Black community. Black women used to endure forced sterilization due to eugenics; the belief that one race is superior and the eradication of other races is the goal. You may think unethical medical experimentation like the Tuskegee Syphilis Study is a thing of the past, but the negative relationship with healthcare professionals continues. Many doctors encourage Black and Latina women to have less children, start birth control early, or urge sterilization. Clearly, this pressure through pregnancy prevention backfired and has resulted in less use of contraception. Black women are more likely to live in “contraception deserts” and have less access to pharmaceutical settings. This includes Black or female pharmacists, condoms behind the counter rather than on the shelf (discouraging use), self checkout, 24 hour pharmacies, and easy to understand brochures about birth control. Black women also disproportionately deal with more reproductive health issues such as fibroids, and polycystic ovary syndrome. This may influence the decision to go on birth control or take contraception. Lastly, since Black women are 3x more likely to die during childbirth than White women according to the CDC, Black women don’t want to delay their pregnancy. They figure the younger they are the healthier their bodies are, which will boost their chances of a healthy pregnancy. 



Today, many Black people see Planned Parenthood as a means of racial genocide, and it’s no

surprise Black people view the pill as another one of the White mans efforts to eradicate us. Having Black doctors deliver this information and medicine can work to build the trust between the Black community and medicine, as well as disseminating knowledge around Black populated areas. We still have a long way to go, but talk to your doctor about birth control if you feel comfortable. From one Black girl to another!  



References 

Dunne, C. (2020). Black Women’s Health Matters. BC Medical Journal. https://bcmj.org/premise/black-womens-health-matters


Johnson, T. (2022). Black Women and Birth Control. Web MD. https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-black-women


Roberts. D. (2000). Black Women and the Pill. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2000/03/forum-black-women-and-pill

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