It seems in the United States that access to quality health care has become a privilege for some instead of a right for all. This is unfortunately especially true for minority populations. With the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby verdict coupled with continued restricted access to abortion clinics (that depending on its location might serve as a woman’s sole means to receive any kind of reproductive services), women of color are continually disproportionately affected by these decisions.
The Center of Reproductive Rights has declared that things are so bad that the United States must be reported to the United Nations.
A report published by the Center of Reproductive Rights in August declared that medical access and outcomes for these women are in direct violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). The report states:
When it ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the United States committed to ensure the right to health care free from all forms of racial discrimination to all within its borders. Yet, as the U.S. prepares to report to the U.N. expert body charged with monitoring U.S. progress on implementation of these commitments, discrimination in health care remains entrenched. This report evaluates the U.S. record on addressing racial and gender discrimination in sexual and reproductive health care. Recognizing that discrimination exists in both law and fact, we focus on the need for policy change as well as proactive measures to address the structural forms of discrimination that inhibit the ability of women of color and immigrant women to exercise their human right to health.
Here are a few unsettling facts that emphasize the wide gaps in health care services:
Low-income populations in the U.S. are disproportionately made up of Black, Latina and Native American women. The report claims these disparities are especially apparent in Southern states with high black and Latino populations, namely parts of Georgia, Mississippi and Texas.
19 states (including almost all in the South) that have opted out of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Needless to say, this is disturbing: Expanding Medicaid would allow for unprecedented access to affordable contraception for low-income women, and women of color in particular.
35.1. The number of new black female AIDS cases per 100,000 women age 13 and over in 2009, according to a 2011 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. Compare that to 7.9 cases for Hispanic women and 1.5 for white women.
4.3. The cervical cancer death rate per 100,000 among black women nationwide — twice the rate for white women. The difference is so stark it has attracted the attention of researchers, who examined the disparity by focusing on the state of Maryland and published their findings in PLOS ONE health journal.
Researchers determined the disparity is rooted in a several key factors. One is the lack of health care access for black women; the other is a deliberately discriminatory approach to treatment from medical practitioners.
The United States has been put on blast and on notice before the entire world about their harmful and life threatening health care disparities. Maybe they will be shamed into closing the gaps and ensuring that all people, its citizens, are treated well.
Get more information about the health disparities here.