This week, Congresswomen Lauren Underwood and Alma S. Adams and Senator Cory Booker, along with members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. The bill builds on existing legislation to address every dimension of the maternal health crisis in America comprehensively.
The purpose of the bill is to combat the epidemic of maternal deaths in the US, particularly among Black women and pregnant people. The bill expands health care postpartum and allocates resources to study the social determinants of Black maternal mortality.
The Act includes 12 prongs to address different components of maternal health, including providing funding to community-based organizations that work to improve maternal health outcomes, improving data collection processes to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis, improving maternal health care for incarcerated mothers, and supporting moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
Currently, moms in the US are dying at a rate higher than any other developed country, and this rate continues to rise. This issue disproportionately impacts people of color, and Black birthing people are at the highest risk. As of 2017, Black birthing people are dying at rates of 3 to 4 times that of white birthing people. Native people are more than twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white people. One study found that Hispanic people experience “severe maternal morbidity at 1.8 times the rate of non-Hispanic white birthing people.” Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have higher rates of mortality during hospitalization for delivery. Women and people of color are suffering from an epidemic.
Angela Aina, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Black Mamas Matter Alliance, said in a statement, “Black Mamas Matter Alliance is proud to support the Black Maternal Health Caucus in the introduction of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. By centering Black women-led organizations like BMMA in the process, this package takes a proactive approach to addressing many of the systematic public health challenges, workforce development issues, and everyday experiences of Black birthing persons before, during, and after pregnancy. BMMA is in support of the BMHC taking a step forward to addressing the impact of the COVID Pandemic on Black pregnant and birthing people.”
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell stated in support of the Momnibus Act, “one of the richest countries in the world has one the worst Black maternal health outcomes in the world. Across all socioeconomic and geographic lines, Black women in the U.S. are three to five times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than our white counterparts.
“This is not only a public health crisis but a moral and policy failure that requires public officials to examine the many structural and systemic factors that contribute to poor maternal health outcomes for Black women and birthing people, while centering the leadership of Black mothers and women to address and eliminate these disparities. To address the maternal health crisis, some leaders in Congress have been fighting for critically important policies. The Momnibus Act would fill existing gaps in legislation to address every dimension of the Black maternal health crisis.”
Sources: Black Maternal Health Caucus 2/8/21; CDC 9/6/19; HHS 11/8/19; CDC 11/25/20; Black Mamas Matter Alliance; In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda; ; Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 Quotes in Support 2/8/21