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Adams, 57 Representatives Introduce Legislation Designating 2nd Annual Black Maternal Health Week

Apr 12, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC Congresswoman Alma S. Adams (NC-12) and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL), co-chairs of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, led 57 of their colleagues to introduce legislation designating April 11 -17, 2019 as the 2nd Annual Black Maternal Health Week. The week aims to raise awareness about the Black maternal health crisis in the United States.


Black women are nearly four times more likely than white women – and more than twice as likely than women of other races – to die from preventable, pregnancy-related complications. Black women also experience higher rates of maternal complications and infant mortality. They are twice as likely to lose an infant to premature death, and these disparities have not improved for more than 30 years.


A companion resolution was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Adams and Harris worked closely with Black Mamas Matter Alliance, a Black women-led, cross-sectorial alliance, to recognize the annual week of awareness. This legislation is also endorsed by the Center for American Progress, Center for Reproductive Rights, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Commonsense Childbirth, Every Mother Counts, In Our Own Voice, National Association to Advance Black Birth, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Black Midwives Alliance, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, SisterSong, and WomenHeart.


“As a Black mother and grandmother, this crisis is deeply personal to me. Too many Black women do not have access to the quality pre- and post-natal care they deserve,” said Congresswoman Adams. “Black women are dying of preventable pregnancy – related complications at an alarming rate, and I hope the designation of Black Maternal Health Week will call immediate attention and focus to this public health crisis.”


“Black women’s maternal health in the United States is in a state of crisis,” said Senator Harris. “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 Black Mamas Matter Alliance applauds the introduction of this resolution to recognize Black Maternal Health Week. We founded Black Maternal Health Week to bring greater attention to racial disparities in maternal health and spark action to address the racial discrimination and inequities that shape maternal health care experiences and outcomes among Black Mamas,” said Elizabeth Dawes Gay, co-director of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. “We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Alma Adams, and for their commitment to changing the future for Black Mamas." 

“The only way to make health care a right and not a privilege in our country is to confront the systemic racism that is the driving unequal health outcomes and treatment for black mothers,” said Dr. Jamila Taylor, Senior Fellow and Director of the Women’s Health and Rights at the Center for American Progress. “What Congresswoman Adams’ Black Maternal Health Week resolution does is make clear that a fundamental right like access to quality health care should not depend on the color of your skin.”

“Black mothers die and experience poor maternal health outcomes at staggering rates,” said Jennifer Jacoby Altscher, Federal Policy Counsel at Center for Reproductive Rights. “This is an urgent human rights crisis and must be made a national priority. That is why we urge Congress to pass this Black Maternal Health Week resolution. The resolution is an important step towards raising awareness and developing proactive solutions to the US maternal health crisis.”


This legislation comes days after Congresswoman Adams and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL) launched the Black Maternal Health Caucus in the House to raise awareness within Congress to establish Black maternal health as a national priority, and explore and advocate for effective, evidence-based, culturally-competent policies and best practices for improving Black maternal health. The bipartisan caucus has nearly 60 members.