Longtime community health advocate ABCD hosts Black Maternal Health Week  screening of Birthing Justice followed by panel discussion with Boston health professionals

April 16, 2024

Jamie McIver

WHAT: ABCD Health Services hosts a free community screening of the award-winning film Birthing Justice during Black Maternal Health Week, followed by a panel discussion by top maternal health practitioners and advocates – with the goal of engaging, empowering and equipping women and those who care for them to advocate for better Black maternal health outcomes. This event seeks to inform residents in Boston communities (according to a 2023 report by the Boston Public Health Commission) with the highest rates of infant mortality (Hyde Park), low birth weights and preterm births (Mattapan and Dorchester) about systemic issues and racial biases that adversely affect Black maternal outcomes, and to give voice to Black women who, studies show, are often dismissed or ignored in hospitals and other health care settings, even as they suffer from severe injuries and pregnancy complications and ask for help. Birthing Justice examines the structures and systems that determine the mortality of Black women and their babies, and elevates the experiences of Black women and their advocates. 

WHO: Moderator: ABCD Medical Director Frinny Polanco Walters, MD., MPH, Attending Physician, Boston Children’s Hospital 

Panelists: Tiffany Vassell, RN, Neighborhood Birth Center

Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah- Onukagha,  Tufts University School of Medicine

Sharon T. Callender, RN, MPH, Mattapan Community Health Center

Attendees: Boston community members, health care advocates and practitioners 

WHERE:       Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA 02125

WHEN:         Wednesday, April 17, 2024 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. 

                           Panel discussion: 7:45-8:30 p.m.  

WHY: Black maternal health is a crisis in the United States. Black women are three times as likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white women. Women in America are dying at a higher rate from pregnancy related causes than any other developed nation. In Boston, Black residents experience the highest rates of infant mortality, preterm births, and low birth weight. Systemic inequities are also to blame. 

A leader in community health care, in 1965, ABCD established the first community health center in the nation – Geiger Gibson Community Health Center in Dorchester, in collaboration with Tufts University,  which still exists today. A Title X grantee since 1973, ABCD’s Title X funding currently supports reproductive health care through 12 sub- recipient agencies in Boston, Brighton, Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Milford, Roxbury, South Boston and Worcester. Annually, the program historically serves more than 30,000 underresourced Massachusetts residents.


About ABCDA Massachusetts-based nonprofit human services organization, ABCD provides under-resourced residents in the Boston and Mystic Valley areas with the tools, support, and resources they need to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success. Each year, we serve more than 100,000 individuals, elders and families through a broad range of innovative initiatives as well as long-established, proven programs and services. For over 60 years, ABCD has been deeply rooted in each neighborhood we serve, empowering individuals and families and supporting them in their quest to live with dignity and achieve their highest potential. For more, please visit bostonabcd.org.