“Black women in the UK are five times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth… Will the Prime Minister commit to addressing that and launch an urgent investigation into the issue?”
That was the question from Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons today.
Shockingly, it’s true that black British mothers face a five-fold higher risk of death during pregnancy and childbirth than white women, as Channel 4 News has previously reported. Mixed race and Asian women are also at increased risk.
But we think Sir Keir’s comments omitted a key piece of context.
On 2 September, the government announced it was “working with midwives, medical experts, and academics to investigate BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] maternal mortality”.
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch convened a panel of 15 experts to discuss what the government describes as the “concerning statistics”.
FactCheck understands that Labour wants the government to commit to a specific review of maternal mortality following that meeting.
And more broadly, the shadow justice secretary David Lammy has been critical of Boris Johnson for launching a new Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities this summer without having implemented many of the findings of previous race equality reviews, including Mr Lammy’s own.
But on the specific issue of black maternal mortality rates, anyone listening to the Labour leader earlier today would be under the impression that the government has yet to even look into this disturbing trend – which isn’t quite correct.
The Labour party did not provide an on-the-record comment when contacted.
This article has been updated to clarify that the maternity panel was convened separately to the government’s new Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.