UN Addresses Reproductive Health Disparities in the U.S.

On Friday, the day before International Women’s Day, a UN Committee expressed concern about “wide racial disparities” in sexual and reproductive health in the United States, reports RH Reality Check.

Remarks were made concerning this issue at the end of a two-week session in Geneva, Switzerland, where the UN reviewed the nation’s observance of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a human rights agreement which requires countries to take pro-active measures to address racial inequalities.

While a number of issues were addressed concerning racial discrimination in the U.S., such as racial segregation in schools and discrimination in the criminal justice system, there was also a focus on severe reproductive health disparities between women of color and white women. Among those were these findings by the Center for Reproductive Rights:

  • African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, 23 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS and 14 times more likely to die from the disease.
  • American-Indian/Alaskan Native women are over 5 times more likely than white women to have chlamydia and over 7 times more likely to contract syphilis.
  • The unplanned pregnancy rate among Latinas is twice the national average; and Latinas are much more likely to contract human papillomavirus, the infection that leads to cervical cancer.

The Committee gave the U.S. the following recommendations to improve the status of these serious disparities in reproductive health care: improve access to pre- and post-natal care, including the elimination of eligibility barriers to Medicaid; improve access to contraceptive and family planning methods; and lastly, provide comprehensive sexual education aimed at the prevention of unintended pregnancies and STIs.