As the U.S. faces a maternal health crisis, with Black women three times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy complications, the Center for Reproductive Rights has partnered to sponsor Black Maternal Health Week, April 11-17—a seven-day series aimed at raising awareness, inspiring activism, and strengthening organizing for Black maternal health.
The Center is a founding partner of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (BMMA)—a national network of maternal health, human rights, and reproductive justice leaders—which started Black Maternal Health Week in 2018. The week coincides with International Day for Maternal Health and Rights on April 11 and National Minority Health Month in April.
Through its Maternal Health & Rights Initiative, which focuses on improving maternal health equity and outcomes in the U.S., the Center collaborates with BMMA and member organizations on proactive and progressive maternal health policy.
President’s Proclamation Brings Awareness to the U.S. Maternal Health Crisis and its Impact on Black Mothers
After President Joe Biden signed a proclamation April 13 recognizing Black Maternal Health Week, Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement, “Today, President Biden took a momentous step and brought national awareness to the U.S. maternal health crisis disproportionately impacting Black mothers. . . The proclamation recognizes that structural racism is the root cause of the problem, that there is a need to prioritize community-led solutions, and that there must be a commitment to building a world where Black people may birth and live with dignity.”
Earlier in the day, Vice President Kamala Harris and Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council, hosted a roundtable discussion on maternal health with Black women who shared their experiences with complications from pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum as well as their work in advocacy and research. The discussion highlighted the disparities that Black women face in maternal health.
The Center has also endorsed the fourth annual Black Maternal Health Week Resolution introduced yesterday in the U.S. Congress by Representatives Alma Adams and Lauren Underwood and Senator Cory Booker.
North Carolina Momnibus Act Introduced
The Center’s Senior Manager for Maternal Health, Breana Lipscomb, was on hand April 12 for the introduction of the North Carolina Momnibus Act—a state law that would address North Carolina’s maternal health crisis, which disproportionately impacts Black birthing people. In calling for passage of the bill, she stated, “In order to address maternal mortality, through the Maternal Health & Rights Initiative at the Center for Reproductive Rights, we prioritize three policy areas: promoting quality data collection, ensuring access to maternity and preventive health care, and addressing racism within and beyond the health care system. The North Carolina Momnibus Act addresses each of those policy priorities.”
The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the developed world, and North Carolina ranks 30th among states. While most countries are achieving declines in maternal deaths, the U.S. is one of only 13 countries where maternal mortality is on the rise, and racial disparities drive this crisis.
April 15 Town Hall to Discuss North Carolina Momnibus Act
This Thursday, April 15, at 7 pm ET, Lipscomb will join a virtual town hall to discuss the state of Black Maternal Health in North Carolina. The event is hosted by North Carolina state officials Sen. Sydney Batch, Rep. Vernetta Alston, and Rep. Zack Hawkins, and will also feature representatives from Equity Before Birth, Moms Rising, and Duke Health. Register here.
Lipscomb also participated in a virtual town hall yesterday with @BlackMamasMatter (BMMA) on Twitter, where she provided insight into policy initiatives seeking to address the state’s maternal health disparities. For additional events this week, visit @BlackMamasMatter on Twitter.
- Statement from Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, on President Biden’s Proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week, April 13, 2021
- Proclamation by President Biden on Black Maternal Health Week, April 13, 2021
- The Center’s Maternal Health & Rights Initiative in the U.S.
- Center Cheers Reintroduction of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act in U.S. Congress, 02/08/21
- The Center’s Maternal Health work across the globe