A deeper look at slavery in the United States is a step forward in creating a more equitable healthcare system, because racial disparities in maternal mortality make it even worse for women of color to seek medical help today. Racial bias continues to exist in emergency rooms and hospitals now, “Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to white Americans.” Just this year, a leading educational publisher issued an apology and recalled nursing textbooks that still included racist stereotypes, proving that the United States health system is still haunted by slavery.
Doctor James Marion Sims is remembered as the “Father of Modern Gynecology” who developed pioneering tools and surgical techniques related to women’s reproductive health. In order to develop these tools and techniques, Sims conducted a series of excruciating surgeries on enslaved black women. Many medical journals also list experiments with black people because it was believed that they didn’t feel any pain or anxiety. These experiments led to many medical breakthroughs, but they also created a healthcare system that is still feeling the effects of slavery.