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Marcela’s Voice: A Letter from the CEO

Happy April! We celebrated Black Maternal Health week (April 12-17) by lifting up Black mothers and calling on public officials to address Black maternal health disparities. We kicked off the week by partnering with Radio One on a virtual panel discussion titled “Ensuring Black Mental Health and Wellness.. I was honored to join Black Mamas Matter Alliance Co-Founder and Executive Director Angela Doyinsola Aina, National Birth Equity Collaborative Founder and President Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, and Mamatoto Village Co-Founder and Executive Director Aza Nedhari for this important discussion. 

I take my inspiration from women like Angela, Joia, and Aza, who work tirelessly in our communities. Black maternal health is one of the critical policy issues that In Our Own Voice and our partner organizations work on every day — not just during Black Maternal Health Week. For example, we have been working with the White House to ensure that the federal Momnibus Act of 2021 moves forward and is not stalled. As the Build Back Better plan continues to be negotiated in Congress, we are collaborating with the Biden administration to make sure that the Momnibus Act is included in it and remains intact. We will not let Black women and birthing people be negotiated out of the Build Back Better bill! 

Some of our partner organizations are also working hard to protect Black mamas, birthing people and babies. Black Women for Wellness, our partner organization in California, successfully garnered bipartisan support to pass Senate Bill 65, the California Momnibus Bill. This bill seeks to reduce pregnancy and postpartum death rates and infant mortality, especially for Black women and families of color. In Pennsylvania, our partner organization, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, has worked with the Women’s Health Caucus and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus to introduce a maternal health legislative package. 

Black women in the United States are three to five times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than their white counterparts, which is both a public health and moral crisis. Policy change is needed to end maternal mortality in this country, and we must demand it. 

In solidarity,
Marcela Howell
President & CEO
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
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