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Black women demand that Congress protect maternal health

Statement of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell

WASHINGTON – The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 has been introduced by Representative Underwood, Representative Alma Adams and Senator Booker along with the Black Maternal Health Caucus to address the crisis of high maternal deaths among Black women and other pregnant people in the U.S. The legislation helps improve Black maternal outcomes by improving access to affordable, high-quality care; addressing the impact of chronic conditions on pregnancy for Black women; and investing in social determinants of health that contribute to Black maternal mortality.

In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda President and CEO Marcela Howell issued the following statement 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. It includes legislation that will make critical investments in social determinants of health and community-based organizations working to support Black women; grow and diversify the perinatal workforce so women have culturally-competent maternity care; improve maternal health care for incarcerated women; invest in maternal mental health; and expand telehealth services to reach underserved rural populations, among other measures.

“With the additional COVID-19-related risks to health and economic stability and their disproportionate impact on women and Black communities, the need for immediate and bold action to improve Black maternal health has never been greater. We urge all members of Congress to listen to Black women and vote to pass this vital, life-saving legislation now. Every day that Congress stalls the Momnibus Act causes suffering and costs lives.

“Politicians who depend on our votes to get elected should, at the very least, step up and enact laws to save our lives. Black women demand it and will accept nothing less.”


In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national-state partnership focused on lifting up the voices of Black women leaders at the national and regional levels in our fight to secure reproductive justice for all women, femmes and girls. Our eight strategic partners are Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc. SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Afiya Center and Women With A Vision.

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