Rep. Adams Co-Sponsors Bill addressing Black maternal health crisis
By Cash Michaels
This was just one of the many sad facts discussed during last week’s Fifth Annual Black Maternal Health Week activities - “regardless of educational levels or socioeconomic status, women of color in North Carolina are three to four times more likely to face complications during pregnancy than non-Hispanic white women.”
Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, is among those in Congress who want something done about this.
"Maternal health in America is in crisis," said Adams last week during Black Maternal Health week. “Like so many crises, the maternal mortality crisis hits Black America hardest."
Adams is one of the co-sponsors of House Resolution 959, a bill that directs the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services to address the social determinants of maternal health, “…which include childcare, housing, food security, transportation, and environmental conditions.”
“The bill also extends to 24 months postpartum eligibility for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children,” it says.
"The Black maternal health crisis is preventable," Adams continued. "This momnibus (legislation) will save the lives of Black women and children and improve outcomes for all mothers."
Rep. Adams was not alone in her sentiments last week to improve the state of Black maternal health. Vice Pres. Kamala Harris, an early proponent of the cause, joined the Charlotte - Mecklenburg House member in leading over 110 co-sponsors, including Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in a resolution to raise national awareness of the state of Black maternal health.
As a U.S. senator, Harris introduced the first congressional resolution recognizing Black Maternal Health Week along with Adams and Underwood in 2018. That led to the founding of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.
“In our nation, we are looking at the fact that more women are facing death because of childbirth than in any other developed nation,” Harris told reporters last week. “We are looking at the likelihood that Black women are three times more likely to die in connection with childbirth, that Native women are twice as likely to die, that rural women are one and a half times more likely to die.”
VP Harris wants to invest half a billion dollars into reducing maternal and morbidity rates.
“The more we can elevate this issue…,” says Harris, “ I think the more we will accomplish that, which is to let women know that when it comes to their reproductive health, when it comes to their pregnancy and anything that they are experiencing in connection with that, they do not have to suffer, and they certainly must not silently suffer, because there is a whole system that has been designed to help them. And so, let’s hold the system accountable to do its job.”