The U.S. continues to face a maternal health crisis, with rates of maternal deaths continuing to rise. The crisis disproportionately impacts Black women, who are nearly three times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy complications. Multiple factors contribute to the disparities that Black women experience, including structural racism, biased and discriminatory treatment from providers, limited access to quality care, and broader inequities in health that can lead to complications during pregnancy.
The Center’s Maternal Health & Rights Initiative promotes the human rights of pregnant, birthing, and postpartum people in the United States. Harnessing the power of law, policy, and strategic advocacy, the Initiative seeks to improve access to safe and respectful maternal health care for all who need it, and to ensure that all people have an opportunity to attain the highest standard of maternal health possible for themselves.
Crisis in U.S. Maternal Health
- In 2021, U.S. maternal mortality rates jumped by 38.2% after increasing 18.4% in 2020.
- The rate for Black women was 2.6 times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white women and in 2020 was three times as high.
The Initiative’s three main priorities are ensuring high quality data collection, fighting for access to safe and respectful comprehensive maternal health care, and addressing racism within and beyond the health care system.
The Center and its partners advocate for policies including:
- Extending Medicaid coverage to at least one year after pregnancy ends.
- State and federal bills that expand access to culturally aligned pregnancy and postpartum care by increasing the diversity of the healthcare workforce and removing legal barriers to practice for skilled midwives of all backgrounds.
- Measures that ensure affordable access to, and fair compensation of, community-based doulas and midwives.
The U.S. Maternal Health & Rights Initiative also provides advocates, lawmakers, and leaders with human rights-based advocacy tools that they can use to catalyze policy change at the local, state and federal level.
Resources and more.
- “Let’s Talk Repro” Series: Breana Lipscomb, Senior Advisor for Maternal Health & Rights, 04.13.23
- Raising Awareness: 2023 Black Maternal Health Week, 04.07.22
- 2022 U.S. State Legislative Update: Maternal Health, 12.21.22
- Center Joins to Petition the FDA to Improve Treatment for Miscarriage Care, 10.06.22
- UN Body Urges U.S. to Ensure Abortion Access and Culturally Respectful Maternal Health Care in Efforts to Eliminate Racial Discrimination, 09.12.22
- Systemic Racism and Reproductive Injustice in the United States, 07.15.22
- Video Replay: “Mental Health Burden of In/Fertility,” a Virtual Event for Black Maternal Mental Health Week, 07.11.22
- Center Cheers Reintroduction of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act in U.S. Congress, 02.08.21
- Submission to OHCHR on systemic racism and the connections between police violence and reproductive rights violations against Black women, 12.04.20
- Pregnant Immigrants and Asylum Seekers During COVID-19: U.S. Government Abuses at the Border and Beyond, 09.22.20
- Center Advocacy Efforts Will Help Improve Maternal Health in Georgia, 08.12.20
- Center Leader Recognized for Work on Black Maternal Health, 06.24.20
- Safeguarding Maternal Health and Rights in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- The COVID-19 Pandemic is Exacerbating a Human Rights Crisis in Maternal Health
- Factsheet: Maternal Health in Georgia, 08.2019
- Human rights submission on violence against women in facility based childbirth settings, 05.17.19
- Guiding Principles for Maternal Health Policy Change
- Maternal Health State Policy Agenda
- Factsheet: Maternal Health in Louisiana, 10.12.18
- New York State Senate Passes Legislation to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes, 06.20.18
- Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care, 2014