US Representative for Missouri’s 1st congressional district, Cori Bush revealed that she nearly lost two children in emotional testimony she provided for a congressional hearing for Black maternal health.
The hearing, called by the House Committee on Oversight Reform, found Bush acting as her own witness. She described, in detail, how doctors ignored her concerns as she carried both children. It was powerful and personal testimony that highlights how systemic racism affected her family.
US Rep. Cori Bush Was Told Her Son Had “Zero Chance of Life.” He’s Now 21.
Cori Bush, 44, shared that 21 years prior she had been sitting in her doctor’s office at 5 months pregnant when she saw a sign instructing mothers to speak out if they feel something is not right.
“If you feel like something is wrong, something is wrong. Tell your doctor,” the congresswoman said the sign read.
Bush testified that she followed the sign’s instructions and told her doctor about the intense abdominal pain she had been experiencing. While this should likely have been a red flag, her doctor brushed off her concerns.
“Oh no, you’re fine. You’re fine. Go home, and I’ll see you next time,” the Congresswoman said she was told at the time.
Her son Zion was born just seven days later, only 23 weeks into her pregnancy. He barely weighed a pound.
“His ears were still in his head. His eyes were still fused shut. His fingers were smaller than rice, and his skin was translucent,” Bush, who is a former nurse, explained. “We were told he had a zero percent chance of life.”
Luckily, Zion who spent a month hooked up to a ventilator and four months in the NICU survived. He is now 21.
Four months later, the Rep. became pregnant again and the same doctor who had not taken her concerns seriously while she carried Zion convinced her that she should stick with him by admitting that he should have taken her abdominal pain more seriously.
Just sixteen weeks into her second pregnancy, Bush went into early labor again. She testified that another doctor at the hospital said that the baby was a lost cause and wasn’t worth saving.
“I said, ‘No, you have to do something,'” Bush shared. “But he was adamant, and he said, ‘Just go home. Let it abort. You can get pregnant again because that’s what you people do.'”
Bush’s sister, who accompanied her to the doctor’s office, became so frustrated that she threw a chair down a hallway. The commotion caused nurses present to rush to the scene and ultimately contact her doctor for help.
In response, the doctor performed a cervical cerclage, a stitch in the cervix to stop an early delivery. Bush’s daughter was born and was thankfully born healthy. She is now 20.
“This is what desperation looks like. That chair flying down a hallway,” Bush emotionally testified. “Every day, Black women are subjected to harsh and racist treatment during pregnancy and childbirth. Every day, Black women die because the system denies our humanity.”
The testimony comes a month after the Biden administration debuted Black maternal health week which Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about at the time, calling it a “crisis.”
Approximately 700 women die annually as a result of pregnancy or its complications, according to the CDC, and Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women.
The US continues to have the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, driven mostly by the high mortality rates among Black mothers.
Unfortunately, the issue isn’t only one for Black mothers, it’s also dangerous for their children. Black infants are more than twice as likely to die as white infants: 10.8 per 1,000 Black babies, compared with 4.6 per 1,000 white babies.
We the Rep. Cori Bush’s personal testimony helps legislators put a face to the pain and suffering of so many Black mothers and the countless moms and children who have been lost due to systemic racism and implicit bias in the healthcare system.
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