This New Bill Wants to Help Combat Inequalities in Black Maternal Health

"We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo.”
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
February 17, 2021
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Image: Tolu Bamwo / Nappy Images

Earlier this month, three Black lawmakers introduced a bill covering a number of topics related to combating the large disparities found in maternal healthcare for Black mothers nationwide.

The bill, titled the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, initially introduced last year, was again announced by Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey—this time with some new additions.

The bill aims to fund community organizations, as well as governments on the local and state levels, to work to improve the maternal health outcomes for Black moms by establishing training programs on bias, racism and discrimination in maternity health care environments. The bill also aims to address the social elements at play, including access to housing, transportation, child care and nutrition.

One new addition to the bill focuses on getting more clarity on the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy, working to get more pregnant women enrolled in trials to help put an end to the mixed messages pregnant women may currently be getting. Another new addition to the bill focuses on the study that came out last June on the association of air pollution and pregnancy risks. The bill aims to work with local programs to help combat these threats.

The disparities in health care for Black moms are significant and a study found that Black newborns tend to have a higher mortality rate when in the care of white doctors as compared to Black doctors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these disparities are due to unequal access to care and implicit biases in healthcare.

“As the rest of the world works to improve maternal health outcomes, skyrocketing maternal mortality rates here in the United States are precipitating a public health crisis—one that puts mothers of color especially at risk,” Sen. Booker said in a press release. "We simply cannot continue to accept this alarming status quo.”

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