African American Women In The 20th Century

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During the first half of the 20th century, the world of medical research began to flourish. As new treatments for chronic illnesses were being discovered, physicians, researchers, and social reformers sought to improve women’s health. Despite racial discrimination and poverty struggles, the efforts made greatly improved women’s access to healthcare. Maternal and infant death rates began to improve along with doctors’ attitudes towards their female patients. During a time period plagued with an environment of extreme racial discrimination, African American women had to overcome many obstacles to gain access to quality health care. From 1900 to 1935, “infant and maternal mortality rates were higher among blacks than whites in the United States.” …show more content…
The Urban League’s health care network “which provided obstetrical care,” (Carson, 1994) sought to educate, improve care, but also provide medical care for impoverished African American women. Other organizations such as the “Public Health Nursing Association PHNA provided prenatal care in the home.” (Carson, 1994) This PHNA “brought care to many of the indigent in Pittsburgh.” (Carson, 1994) Women were cared for by a nurse and patients either “paid on a sliding scale but the majority of patients received care free of charge.” (Carson, 1994) Although, impoverished patients were granted access to hospital care, inconsistencies in treatment became noticeable as “white private patients were far more apt to suffer inference form the physician than non-paying clinic patients, whether white or black.” (Carson, 1994) Regardless, service organizations emerged in an effort to help women unable to pay for a private physician. In 1912, Dr. Charles Ziegler established the University Maternity Dispensary, a home birthing service located in the poor neighborhoods. (Carson, 1994) Private organizations were not alone in attempting to improve infant and maternal health for those in need. In 1921 the Sheppard-Towner Act was enacted by Congress to provide federal funding for maternity and child care. (Wikipedia contributors, 2015) The Act was created in response to the large …show more content…
In an effort to better their lives, women began making major life decisions whether to move or to seek out a different healthcare provider to ensure their maternal health. Physicians began to recognize that their female patients’ were capable and often determined to accurately follow medical treatment protocol. With the assistance of social reformers, women who lacked access to health care due to racial and poverty struggles improved. By the 1940s, due to the great efforts of physicians, researchers, and social reformers maternal and infant death rates had decreased and the medical field of women’s health continued to

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