Erik McGregor Photography

Erik McGregor is a New York City based artist, photographer and activist.

Family members demand justice for Sha-Asia Washington who died during childbirth at Woodhull Hospital

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Brooklyn, NY – Family members, activists and concerned citizens gathered outside Woodhull Hospital on July 9, 2020 holding a rally to demand justice for Sha-Asia Washington, a 26-year-old Black New Yorker, who died on July 3 during childbirth at a the Brooklyn hospital.

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According to 4Kira4Moms, an organization combatting maternal mortality and raising awareness about it as a human rights issue, Washington died while undergoing a C-section.

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She had gone to the hospital with high blood pressure but wasn’t given medication for two days, 4Kira4Moms’ Instagram page says.

The tragedy illustrates a persistent disparity among women of color in the US, who are three to four more times likely to die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications than white women.

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No matter the exact cause of Washington’s death, however, the tragedy is part of a larger trend: While pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths are rare, women of color are disproportionately susceptible.

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It’s unclear exactly how or why Washington died, but some blame the hospital for mistreating her due to the color of her skin. A statement the hospital provided said patient privacy and confidentiality laws prevent it from sharing any details about Washington’s death.

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Since January, New York has lost at least three Black mothers due to childbirth related deaths: in July, Sha-Asia Washington died during a Cesarean birth at Woodhull Hospital; in April, Amber Rose Isaac died during a Cesarean birth at Montefiore Medical Center; and in March, Cordielle Street died a week after she gave birth due to complications.

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Their deaths are the direct result of racism that has led to a Black maternal mortality crisis in New York and the United States, as a whole: Black women, nationally, are at least three times more likely to die from pregnancy and birth related complications–in New York, this number is closer to twelve times–and 50% more likely to suffer severe pregnancy and birth complications than white women.

Family demands justice for Sha-Asia Washington

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