Collins: We are in a fight for the life of every mother like Sha-Asia Washington

Published: Saturday, July 11, 2020 01:39 PM

collins 013120Calls for more action to end maternal mortality crisis among women of color

CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins again called for action to end the culture of prejudice, discrimination and dismissal in the medical community that has contributed to the death of women like New York mother Sha-Asia Washington, a Black woman who died in childbirth last week at age 26.

“The events of this year prove that we are in a fight for the life of every mother like Sha-Asia Washington on every front,” Collins said. “We are fighting for Black women like Patricia Frieson of Chicago, who was the first in Illinois to die of COVID-19. We are saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ in the streets, but we need it to mean something in the hospital and the doctor’s office.”

Van Pelt: Black mothers matter

Published: Saturday, July 11, 2020 01:25 PM

vanpelt 022119CHICAGO – July 3, yet another Black woman fell victim to the inequities of the American health system. Sha-Asia Washington was only 26 when she died during an emergency C-section after delivering her baby girl at Bedford-Stuyvesant hospital in New York. Exhausted by repeated tragic headlines regarding maternal mortality, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is pleading for a deeper change in the health care system.

“Sha-Asia died as she was trying to create a new life,” Van Pelt said. “The doctors failed her. The health care system failed her. How many more Black mothers have to die before we begin to take maternal mortality seriously?”

An independent autopsy confirmed that Sha-Asia died from a heart attack caused by the epidural she was given, despite her objections to it. Her unjust death inflamed a protest in Bed-Stuy.

“Sha-Asia had a whole life ahead of her – her baby’s life, a proposal she’ll never get to hear, a marriage she’ll never experience,” Van Pelt said. “The doctors in this country have to do better. Listen to Black women. Believe us when we tell you we’re in pain, or when we say enough is enough.”

Black women are two to three times more likely to die than white women who suffer from maternal complications.

Illinois recently established a task force and created laws to address some of the issues relating to maternal mortality and how it disproportionately affects Black women. Van Pelt and her colleagues will continue to push for legislation that prevents more Black women from suffering the same fate as Sha-Asia.

Castro vows action on maternal mortality crisis

Published: Friday, July 10, 2020 04:34 PM

Senator CastroELGIN – In the height of the coronavirus pandemic and global protests against systemic racism, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) said a recent news story about the death of Sha-Asia Washington, a 26-year old Black mother who died during an emergency C-section, shows the importance of not being distracted from other crises that vulnerable communities are still facing.

“My heart goes out to Sha-Asia Washington, her now motherless daughter Khloe, their families, and to anyone else who has ever suffered the unimaginable tragedy of losing a mother due to complications from pregnancy,” Castro said. “Their tragedy is the latest in a long history of them. We must act now to fight the systemic inequalities that cause the terrible infant and maternal mortality among women of color in America.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, Black mothers die from pregnancy related causes at a rate two to three times higher than white mothers. In cities like New York, where Sha-Asia Washington died, Black mothers die at a rate 12 times higher.

“This is a reminder that in the 21st Century, with all of our modern medicine, Black and brown mothers are dying during childbirth at a higher rate than white women, just as they are more likely to die in virtually every other situation, from interactions with police to COVID-19 infection,” Castro said. “We need to protect women of color. We need to do better.”

In the spring of 2019, Castro sponsored legislation in the Senate addressing the issue of maternal mortality. The bill contained insurance coverage expansions, post-partum follow up procedures, and added emphasis to high-risk mothers and babies. Though it passed the Senate, it stalled in the House. Castro intends to refile the language of the original bill as an amendment to Senate Bill 3024.

“My original bill addressing these issues passed through the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, so it’s clear that the desire to fix these problem is there,” Castro said. “It is imperative that when the legislature returns to Springfield, we work to provide the long-overdue answers to this crisis once and for all by passing Senate Bill 3024.”

The amendment has not yet been filed.

Martwick to host Facebook Live Town Hall on Policing

Published: Friday, July 10, 2020 04:27 PM

martwick 111819CHICAGO –State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) will join Representative Lindsey Lapointe (D-Chicago) and Norwood Park Fire Commissioner Frank Avino Jr. for a Facebook Live conversation with the community about policing during a time of civil unrest.

“Public safety is important to everyone in our communities,” Martwick said. “During this challenging time, I think it’s important to have a thoughtful and balanced conversation about the role of the police and other parts of our criminal justice system.”

The Facebook Live Town Hall is scheduled for Wednesday July 15 at 7 P.M. on the @Robert Martwick Facebook page located here. Questions will be covered, such as:

  • What does police reform mean?
  • What do people mean by defunding the police?
  • Community oversight – what does this concept mean and what’s feasible?
  • What are the courts and The Department of Corrections role in public safety?
  • What does the concept of licensing police officers mean?
  • How will continuing education and training for police officers help?

Area residents can submit additional questions by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ahead of time or posting on the livestream chat during the event.

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