Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has re-introduced a resolution to have the week of April 11-17 recognized as Black Maternal Health Week, bringing attention to the maternal health statistics in the Black community.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Black mothers are more than three times as likely as white mothers to die during childbirth, twice as likely to experience maternal morbidities and 49% more likely to deliver their child prematurely.

“Black women’s maternal health in the United States is in a state of crisis,” Harris said. “It’s time we place widespread focus on the issue of maternal health for Black women and direct resources toward ensuring safe pregnancies and deliveries for all women—especially Black women—and providing training to address implicit bias in the medical profession.”

The presidential contender first introduced the bill in 2018. The issues facing Black mothers span all income, education and socioeconomic levels.

“Black mothers die and experience poor maternal health outcomes at staggering rates,” said Jennifer Jacoby Altscher, the federal policy counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This is an urgent human rights crisis, and must be made a national priority.”

Harris’ resolution, which is co-sponsored by 13 Senate Democrats, also calls for the Black community to receive clean water, healthy food, environments free of toxins, a living wage and comprehensive and affordable healthcare to “better mitigate the effects of systemic and structural racism.”

The House also recently formed the Black Maternal Health Caucus, which will work to find solutions to the disparities that have existed for more than 30 years. Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood announced the caucus on Tuesday:

“We believe that every woman needs access to quality and affordable health care to ensure safe pregnancies and births for all women in the U.S., especially Black women,” said Elizabeth Dawes Gay, a member of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance Steering Committee. “However, health equity for Black women can only happen if we recognize and address the systemic racism that contributes to poor maternal health, ensure that Black women are at the center of these conversations, and enact real policy change.”

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