A series of 12 bills are hoping to tackle one large issue.
Maternal mortality continues to be a growing problem in the United States. For Black women across the country — especially in Illinois — the statistics are even more alarming.
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, which consists of the 12 bills aimed at addressing the significant health inequities Black mothers face, was recently introduced.
Illinois’ two Democrat senators, Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, were among those who joined representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Alma Adams (D-NC) along with Sen. Corey Booker (D-NJ) in the unveiling of the legislation last week.
“It’s a tragedy every time a new mother dies from a preventable cause related to pregnancy or childbirth, and it’s shameful that far too often those new moms are women of color whose pain or symptoms have been overlooked or ignored,” Duckworth said. “We must address this urgent issue, which is why I’m proud to be joining Senator Booker and Representatives Underwood and Adams in announcing this comprehensive legislative package that will save lives and reduce disparities.”
About 700 women die each year in the U.S. — the highest rate among countries of similar wealth — as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About two out of three deaths are determined to be preventable, based on findings from the CDC’s Maternal Mortality Review Committees.
Still, women of color — including women who are Hispanic, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander — suffer adverse maternal health outcomes at disproportionately high rates. None more so than Black mothers.
“In the United States, Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die as a result of their pregnancy,” Durbin said. “In Illinois, they are six times more likely than white women to die. This is a human tragedy, and we must do something about it.”
The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 pushes for policies like 12-month postpartum Medicaid coverage, which would ensure moms have access to the care and support they need for their full postpartum period.
Additionally, the series of bills would fund local and state organizations working to improve maternal health outcomes, require bias training for medical professionals and work to add diversity to the perinatal workforce.
Planned Parenthood Illinois Action is among the organizations in the state involved in putting together the legislation. It worked alongside the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus in drafting a pair of bills pushing for doula and home visit Medicaid coverage as well as requiring implicit bias training for medical professionals.
“The implicit bias training for medical professionals is something that should’ve been on the books a long time ago,” said Michael Morgan of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. “It is not news that there are a great deal of current medical professionals who believe that Black people, and Black women specifically, are less susceptible to pain. That is a mistruth that has really permeated medical history and our understanding of diagnoses, which is why we see Black people so often going under-diagnosed and under prescribed.”
The series of bills would also support mothers struggling with their mental health and substance abuse issues, among other things.
The congressional package — which is similar to legislation introduced last year — also has additions that address the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change.
In March 2020, the previous legislation was unveiled just before for coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. As such, the original package was never brought to a floor vote.
"As 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,” said Underwood, who is the co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. “This crisis demands urgent attention and serious action to save the lives of Black mothers and all women of color and birthing people across the country.”
via The State Journal-Register
February 15, 2021 at 07:22AM