House Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Alma Adams (D-NC), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus have introduced legislation to address America's Black maternal health crisis.
In what is being described as a historic legislative package, prominent Black women and allies are leading the charge to take the Black maternal health crisis seriously as an urgent healthcare matter with the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020.
It intends to build on existing maternal health legislation and add nine new bills that would add protective measures for Black women, according to a press release.
The nine bills include making investments in the Black community's housing, transportation and nutrition; conducting studies to understand the causes of the maternal health crisis; and diversifying the perinatal workforce so that some Black women can feel safer.
"While maternal mortality rates continue to drop around the world, they are rising in the U.S., leaving behind devastated families and children who will grow up never knowing their moms. This crisis demands urgent attention and serious action to save the lives of Black mothers and all women across the county," Underwood, co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, said.
"The Black Maternal Health Momnibus is a sweeping effort to address our nation's maternal mortality crisis through effective, evidence-based, and culturally competent solutions. The time to end preventable maternal mortality and close racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes is long overdue. With the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, we can work together to solve this crisis right now. New moms and their children and families deserve nothing less."
More than any other developed country, the U.S. has a high rate of maternal deaths at 26.4 deaths per 100,000 births, the Hill reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 60% of fatalities could have been prevented, and Black women are four times likely to die from their pregnancy than white women.
"For decades, the U.S. maternal mortality and morbidity rates have gotten worse for all mothers, but especially for Black women whose health outcomes are further compounded by systemic and structural racism," Adams, co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, said. "The Black Maternal Health Momnibus is a historic piece of legislation that not only fills existing gaps in maternal healthcare, but also works to address pervasive maternal health disparities through solutions that are culturally-congruent and proven effective. The Momnibus provides a new roadmap to ensure our healthcare systems, providers, and society truly make Black maternal and infant health a priority. This legislation says, unequivocally, that Black Moms matter. I'm proud to stand with my colleagues to unveil a comprehensive package that tackles one of the greatest public health crises of our time."
"Black women across the country are dying from pregnancy and childbirth complications at astounding rates- and the disparity transcends income and education levels," Harris said. "It is critical that the federal government work with states, local health providers, and mothers and their families to address the crisis and save lives. The Black Maternal Health Momnibus will address many barriers to care so we can improve maternal health outcomes and help ensure women—especially Black women—have access to comprehensive, culturally competent care."
Just like Harris, fellow former presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren also chimed in on the mortality crisis during her bid.
"Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women in America," according to one of Warren's campaign videos.
Check out the full video here: