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Birthright (2023)

Louisiana Spotlight



Genre: Panel

Place Covered: Louisiana

Copyright Holder: Louisiana Educational Television Authority

Date Issued: 2023-12-19

Duration: 00:58:13

Subjects: Health Care | Maternal health services | Pregnant women | Women's health services | Midwifery | Midwives | Doulas


  • St. Cyr, Kara Host
  • Johnson, Ben Producer
  • Davis, Nancy Interviewee
  • Joshua, Kaitlyn Interviewee
  • Gillispie-Bell, Veronica Interviewee
  • Dietrich, Tiffany Interviewee
  • Pfingstag, Shannon Interviewee
  • Giwa, Latona Interviewee
  • DeJong, Esther Interviewee
  • Armstrong, Andrea Interviewee
  • Wallace, Maeve Interviewee


This episode of the series “Louisiana Spotlight” from December 19, 2023, focuses on Louisiana’s high maternal mortality rate, especially among Black women. The first segment features interviews with Nancy Davis and Kaitlyn Johnson, two women who experienced difficulties in receiving maternal health care in the wake of the state’s new abortion law. In the studio, host Kara St. Cyr then interviews Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell, a board certified OBGYN and the medical director of the Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative and the Pregnancy Mortality Review for the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), who discusses: the goals of the collaborative; how Louisiana’s maternal health care system compares to other states; the reasons why Louisiana has a high maternal mortality rate; the ambiguity following the implementation of the state’s new abortion law; why race impacts outcomes; and the state’s OBGYN shortage. The second segment features interviews with Tiffany Dietrich, a midwife at Saige Birth Center, and Dr. Shannon Pfingstag, a certified nurse midwife and the director of the midwife program at the LSU School of Nursing. They discuss how midwifery can improve the health of mothers in Louisiana. Next, St. Cyr leads a panel discussion with Latona Giwa, a doula registered nurse and the co-founder of the Birthmark Doula Collective in New Orleans, and Esther DeJong, a certified nurse midwife with Mindful Birthing NOLA. They discuss: their start in the field; the differences between midwives and doulas; prioritizing alternative forms of care; and the barriers to access for midwives and doulas in Louisiana. The third segment features St. Cyr’s interview with Andrea Armstrong, a professor at the Loyola University College of Law, who discusses her work on a Louisiana Public Health Institute study on the maternal health care received by incarcerated women. Back in the studio, St. Cyr continues leading the panel discussion with Giwa, DeJong, and Dr. Maeve Wallace, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Tulane University. They discuss: the CDC’s classification of maternal deaths; how to identify mothers experiencing violence; and the impact of mental health during pregnancy and post-partum.