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NEW ORLEANS, La.  — VP Kamala Harris took the stage together at Essence Fest 2023, addressing a captivated audience on Black Maternal Health and giving her opinion in the wake of several consequential Supreme Court rulings. Among these groundbreaking judgments were the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the rollback of LGBTQIA+ protections, and the demise of Affirmative Action. She also defended the Biden-Harris Administrative record on protecting children.

Essence Fest is an iconic event that showcases Black culture and fosters community engagement, celebration, and inspiration. In a conversation moderated by actress Keke Palmer, VP Kamala Harris didn’t hold back her opinion regarding recent US Supreme Court rulings.

Harris talks Black Maternal Health

“In the United States, Black women are three times more likely to die in connection with childbirth. Native women are twice as likely to die. Rural women, one and a half likely — more times likely to die. And understand that among all so-called “developed nations,” we are the worst on this issue,” VPOTUS said.

The Biden-Harris Administration was able to encourage most states “to extend Medicaid coverage postpartum — from two months to twelve months because a woman needs,” VP Kamala Harris shared.

Lawmakers in Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin are currently discussing proposals to increase the duration of postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months.

This year, three additional states (Idaho, Iowa, and Arkansas) considered similar legislation, but unfortunately, they were unable to pass it. It is worth noting that Arkansas has the highest reported maternal mortality rate in the country, as reported by the CDC. Black mothers in Arkansas are more than twice as likely to die. This support comes at a time when reproductive health policy has become a highly polarizing topic, particularly since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

“Imagine that — the facts are: The majority of women who get an abortion — the majority are mothers.  So if she has to leave her state to go for the reproductive healthcare she needs — we’re looking at the fact that if she works, which she probably does, she’s going to lose time from work, potentially without leave — without paid leave.  She’s going to have to figure out what to do with her kids and the cost of the childcare at least for overnight, not to mention bus fare or train fare or airfare and a hotel room.”

VP Kamala Harris speaks at Essence Fest 2023
(Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)

VP Kamala Harris Defends the Child Tax Credit

The Vice President also defended the Biden-Harris Administration’s record when it comes to protecting the Child Tax Credit.

“For me and for the President, one of the biggest issues that has been treated as maybe a small issue is — is anything that affects children,” adding, “We have extended the Child Tax Credit, and in that — in so doing in the first year, reduced Black child poverty by almost 40 percent,” VP Kamala Harris shared to the audience of mostly Black women.

VP Harris’s presence and engagement at Essence Fest underscored the event’s importance in addressing Black Maternal Health within the culture and fostering community engagement, leaving the audience inspired and motivated for positive change.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...