February 2022

Racism runs through it: Examining the sexual and reproductive health experience of Black women in the South

Thompson TA, Young YY, Bass TM, Baker S, Njoku O, Norwood J, Simpson M. Health Affairs. February 2022. DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2021.01422

Few studies have illustrated how racism influences Black women’s use of reproductive health care services. This article presents findings of a collaborative study conducted by a research team and a reproductive justice organization to understand Black women’s concerns with sexual and reproductive health services. The qualitative research was conducted with Black women living in Georgia and North Carolina, using a community-based participatory research approach. Themes were developed from participant accounts that highlight how racism, both structural and individual, influenced their reproductive health care access, utilization, and experience. Structural racism affected participants’ finances and led some to forgo care or face barriers to obtaining care. Individual racism resulted in some women electing to receive care only from same-race medical providers. These findings suggest a need for policies and practices that address structural barriers to reproductive health care access and improve the reproductive health experience of Black women.