04 Nov FSMG Specialists Working to Ensure that the African American Communities Receive Equitable Fertility Care
FSMG (Fertility Medical Specialists Group) is committed equitable access and fertility care for African American communities. The Black community has been underserved in the fertility world and FSMG strongly believes that building a family is a basic human right.
Many Black women find themselves feeling deeply uncomfortable in a fertility space that is overwhelmingly white. When combined with the statistics that reveal lack of timely referrals for fertility care and economic and geographical barriers access to care, it is clear African American communities are underserved.
Many Black women facing infertility find challenges in the uphill battle in receiving fertility care. Challenges include not having insurance that covers the cost of infertility services and lack of an awareness of low-cost interventions available to help create families. Implicit bias from doctors and clinics, and the impression that other races being overwhelmingly represented coupled with a lack of African American sperm and egg donors create barriers for black patients.
We understand that fertility treatment isn’t about making miracles or good success rates. It’s about expertise, advanced science, treatment options, perseverance, hard work, compassion, understanding, and acceptance. Statistics are not our definition of success, but a satisfied, content patient who feels represented and heard is our goal.
Access to Care and Affordable Care
In a landmark 2015 study, a University of Michigan psychologist interviewed 50 Black women concerning their experiences with infertility. “I was just floored that all the work on fertility was being done on white, very wealthy couples. When I learned women of color are more impacted, it seemed like a clear injustice,” stated Lead Researcher Ceballo. “I was struck by the absolute pain of women who described going to a medical appointment and seeing bulletin boards full of babies that were all white babies.”
Nearly one-quarter of the Black women interviewed in the study reported that fertility clinics made them uncomfortable by making assumptions about their sexual promiscuity, ability to pay, or their weight. Nearly all women reported feeling lonely, isolated, and like they had somehow failed.
Why the feelings of isolation and failure? Many Black women believe they can’t afford treatments or delay care because they simply don’t have access to the care. For many, there are delays in appropriate evaluation and referrals from medical providers.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine task force is seeking ways to increase access to infertility care for Black communities by lobbying for increased insurance coverage for infertility services and having clinics offer help for lower-income couples. ASRM and FSMG are committed to diversity in the infertility workforce to include more physicians, nurses, and lab employees who are African American.
FSMG – Dr. McNally Volunteers to Address Access Equity for Maternal Care
FSMG’s Dr. McNally has been appointed to the statewide California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative Task Force for Birth Equity to address racial disparities in preventable maternal mortality, morbidity, and access to care. Dr. McNally currently serves on the San Diego Birth Equity committee.
Dr. McNally was appointed to the task force to help strategize and address birth equity and further understanding structural racism and health inequities. The goal is to end preventable morbidity, mortality, and racial disparities in maternity care, and work diligently until the gap in maternal health outcomes is closed.
Despite this reduction, Black and Indigenous women experience 3 to 6 times the rates of maternal mortality, and these inequities are directly attributable to systemic racism and bias. The California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative Task Force for Birth Equity is committed to the following actions:
- Prioritize reducing inequities within all CMQCC activities and promote projects that actively support anti-racist practices
- Engage with external partners to advance our equity work
- Amplify the voices of birthing persons in maternal equity and quality initiatives, especially BIPOC voices
- Develop and provide guidance to hospitals on interpretation and use of race/ethnicity data within CMQCC’s Maternal Data Center
- Critically examine CMQCC task force and committee compositions with the goal of diverse and inclusive representation
- Incorporate supportive, equitable and respectful care in our toolkits and quality improvement work
- Integrate equity into collaborative research processes
- Continue internal learning about structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism in maternity care and apply these insights to our work as an organization toward creating a more equitable care model for maternal health
FSMG and Dr. McNally are optimistic the work in the Birth Equity space will translate to advancements and equity in fertility care. They are committed to lessen the barriers actively and deliberately to infertility care.
To learn more about this topic and speak to one of our physicians about fertility treatment, you can request a consultation here.