ProPublica and New Mexico In-depth reported on Saturday that Lovelace Women’s Hospital had a secret policy for screening Native American women for coronavirus and then separating some of them from their newborns while they awaited test results.
Indigenous Justice Attorney Preston Sanchez issued the following statement in response:
“Throughout America’s history, indigenous people, including young children, have been subjected to violent and oppressive policies that have torn tribal communities apart and forever impacted their way of life. Now, in the midst of struggling through a pandemic, and at a time when Native families and communities are most in need of love, strength, and support, it is absolutely tragic to learn about this secret policy to racially profile indigenous Pueblo women and separate them from their newborn children. We must address it immediately. The ACLU of New Mexico will do everything in its power to support and obtain justice for Native women and families who were harmed as a result of this policy and are willing to come forward with their stories.”
Reproductive Rights Attorney Ellie Rushforth issued the following statement in response:
“We are deeply troubled by the news that Lovelace Women’s Hospital profiled and harmed Native American women and their babies in this manner. These actions mirror the historic and violent practices of the U.S. government and medical systems deceiving and forcibly sterilizing Native American women, experimenting on Native communities without informed consent, and forcibly assimilating Native American children by removing them from their families and placing them in boarding schools, foster homes, and adoption systems. That Lovelace Hospital would continue this legacy of oppression and pretend it was for the best interest of patients is repugnant. Singling women and their babies our for discrimination based on race is not only unethical and abhorrent, it flies in the face of medical best practices including informed consent and perinatal care. It also subjects Native American women, who are already at an increased risk of maternal morbidity and mortality as a result of systemic racism, to further harm. The state must conduct a swift and thorough investigation of this policy and hold administrators accountable for the suffering and injury they have inflicted.”