Mama’s Gone to Heaven - America’s Lost Mothers | Close up - The Current Affairs Documentary | DW | 28.01.2020
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Mama’s Gone to Heaven - America’s Lost Mothers

Shalon Irving, an African-American woman, died just a few weeks after her daughter was born. She is no exception. Maternal mortality rates for Black women in the United States are very high.

Watch video 28:36

"Good morning Mommy!" two-year old Soleil calls every morning. But her mother is no longer there to answer her. Shalon Irving died a few weeks after her daughter was born. Now the many photographs of her in the family’s Atlanta home keep her memory alive. Doctors didn’t take the young woman’s complaints seriously after the birth of her child - until she fell into a coma. Shalon’s tragic death is no exception. The risk of death during pregnancy and childbirth is four times higher for African-American women than for white women in the US. The situation is particularly dire in the southern states. The maternal mortality rate for Black women in the U.S. is widely regarded as a national disgrace. The report gives a voice to midwives and doctors, as well as pregnant women who give birth at home. For many women, a hospital birth is too expensive, or the hospital is simply too far away. Soleil is now growing up with her grandmother Wanda. The 66-year old is demanding justice, and hopes that the death of her daughter Shalon will finally serve as a wake-up call. In Georgia and other U.S. states, civil rights activists, obstetricians and midwives are fighting against prejudice, ignorance and racism in the healthcare sector. Wanda has taken her anger and grief all the way to the U.S. Congress. She is determined to help end the dire injustice facing pregnant Black women the United States.