End Racial Profiling of Native Women at Lovelace Women's Hospital

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A report published in New Mexico In Depth on June 13, 2020, uncovers that Lovelace Women’s Hospital in Albuquerque has been racially profiling Native American/ Pueblo women and, at times, separating them from their newborn babies without free, prior and informed consent. We are outraged at yet another violation of our peoples’ (women’s) human rights.

According to conscientious clinicians working there, the hospital had a secretive policy to conduct special coronavirus screenings for pregnant women, based on whether they appeared to be Native American – even if they had no symptoms or were otherwise at low risk for the disease.

As a Native/Pueblo/Tewa women-led and serving organization, we continue to come from our heart’s breath, working alongside Reproductive Justice organizations, across the country to counter genocidal and gynocidal policies and strategies that strip Indigenous, Black, Latina, Asian, LGBTQAI birthing peoples of their voice and body sovereignty.

Research is full of the benefits of immediate attachment and bonding between newborns and their birthing parents, especially their mothers. The work of reclaiming birth and birthing practices are part of the healing this country needs. This reclamation comes from living through colonial, white supremacist, scientist, capitalist patriarchy which has put our health and our ability to nurture our children into adulthood at devastating risk.

Standing rooted in our Tewa Women United values, we call upon our communities to stand together to braid our collective cultural strengths, power, and courage to call out such practices that destroy trust, erode our human rights and violate our Tribal and body sovereignty. We will not stop using every ounce of our heart’s breath to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those most vulnerable. We stand together as a group of women who will change the world, one breath, one birth, one life at a time.

As concerned citizens, we demand that the administration of the Lovelace Women’s Hospital:

  • Immediately cease practices which racially profile Indigenous communities and separate newborns from their birthing parents. Parents must have shared decision making and informed consent.
  • Uphold WHO guidance to ensure newborns are breastfed, regardless of COVID-19 status, as the virus does not get transmitted through breastfeeding. In fact, “in all socioeconomic settings, breastfeeding improves survival and provides lifelong health and development advantages to newborns and infants.” (https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/maternal-health/faqs-breastfeeding-and-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=d839e6c0_5)
  • Release a formal apology on behalf of the hospital to all parents and communities affected by these violent and racist acts. 
  • Change the current “one visitor per patient” policy for laboring parents to allow a doula or other support person to provide support and advocacy to the birthing person.