Healthcare Inequities in the United States and Beyond Are Taking Black Women’s Lives

McIntosh, Alichia | April 1, 2023

Black women have been dying at devastating rates due to health complications at the hands of the United States’ healthcare and legal systems. This Note explores these distressing rates and how they compare to White women while analyzing the fatalities and diagnoses among several health complications and diseases. These fatalities persist due to the United States’ history of racism—such as the institution of slavery and over 100 years of Black bodies experiencing Jim Crow laws—and the socioeconomic disadvantages Black women disproportionally face. This Note emphasizes that these disparities continue because the United States has failed to implement treaties—which it is has ratified—and to ratify treaties that recognize health care as a human right and prohibit de facto and de jure discrimination. Instead, the United States’ legal system ignores the de facto discrimination that Black women face since the Supreme Court has held that the United States Constitution prohibits only de jure discrimination. Still, the question remains: how can the United States navigate out of the horrific disparities resulting from de facto discrimination and provide Black women a more equitable medical experience in U.S. society? This Note recommends the United States combat these disparities by investing in Black communities, recruiting and training more Black doctors, providing proper medical bias training, performing its obligations under the international treaties it has ratified, and ratifying the treaties is has enacted.