WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The United States has a frighteningly high rate of maternal death among the highest of developed countries around the world.
For African-American women, it’s even worse. African-American women are four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) is among a group of Democratic lawmakers launching the Black Maternal Health Caucus.
“We are truly in the midst of a national health crisis,” said Adams.
Adams said black mothers are dying at alarming rates and she wants Congress to do something about it. Adams said she created the Black Maternal Health Caucus to provide legislative solutions.
“More than half of these deaths are preventable,” she said.
Supporters said current policies aren’t doing enough to prevent complications and save black mothers’ lives.
“That is unacceptable in America and we need to change it. We cannot and must not accept this” said Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader.
Congress has already passed several bills aimed at reducing maternal mortality rates.
But Caucus members said there’s little focus on the impact on minority groups and racial disparities. Supporters said the Caucus can change that.
“There is something that we have to fix within our health care system and our society that says black mamas lives don’t matter” said Elizabeth Dawes Gay, a co-founder of “Black Mamas Matter.”
Elizabeth Dawes Gay, a co-founder of “Black Mamas Matter,” said racial bias is a certainly a factor. She said federal leaders, health professionals and mothers from all walks of life must work together to close gaps in the system.
“Recognize the disparities, but to also envision a brighter future for black mamas,” Elizabeth Dawes Gay said.
If improving health care is a top priority for Congress, caucus members want to make sure black females are a key part of the conversation.