Class of 2024

Hometown: Marshall, Minnesota

Majors: Public Policy and Global Health
Minor: Spanish

Mellon Project: The Black Maternal Autonomy Crisis: The Impact of Historical Medical Racism and Legal Regulation on Black Women's Reproductive Health Autonomy

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson invoked popular attention to how black women are treated by medical institutions and impacted by health policy. Despite being a seemingly race-neutral decision, like many changes related to health, it will have a disproportionate impact on black women for two main reasons: (1) Black women are a third of the current recipients of abortions and (2) are also about 3 times more likely to die in childbirth than non-Hispanic white women. One of the most concerning impacts of the case is the predicted exacerbation of black maternal mortality, which is already currently over double the average rate for the country. In the healthcare system, especially in reference to maternal health, any decisions restricting patient autonomy and choice become a matter of life and death for black women. Dobbs has shocked many people across the nation and infuriated us at the overt disproportionate consequences the court has created for systematically oppressed communities. However, I argue that examining our history reveals that this decision wasn’t extreme, but rather consistent with a series of laws and policies that began during slavery, which established and upheld the medical system as a whole, and the disparities which exist in it.

Research Interests: intersectionality, race, health disparities, history, and law