Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said society needs to do more to curb the increasing rates of mortality among black mothers.
Harris, a rising star in the Democratic Party believed to have presidential aspirations, introduced the CARE Act in August aimed at reducing the disparity in maternal death rates between women of color and white women.
Speaking at the Center for American Progress Wednesday, Harris championed the cause in an effort to raise awareness to the problem, calling it a “truth that must be spoken.”
"Women in the healthcare system must be given dignity. They must be listened to. They must be taken seriously. They must be given respect,” Harris said. “They must be given a sense of dignity about understanding that when they tell you something, then listen. When they tell you what they need, listen. They know what they need when they tell you. Hear them."
Harris said black women are three to four times more likely to die than white women because they choose to become mothers. Additionally, infants born to African-American mothers die at twice the rate of babies born to white mothers.
“We can solve for this, because at its core, one of the biggest parts of the problem is that his is an issue that’s about race,” she said.
Harris noted that increased education and awareness is necessary to fight the growing problem. She believes government also should be doing more to help.
"I've found myself saying recently that if something is worth fighting for, it's a fight worth having. If something is worth fighting for, it's a fight worth having. And when it comes to maternal healthcare for black women in America - it's a fight worth having,” Harris said.