Today, during the 4th annual Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW), the Biden-Harris administration issued the first-ever proclamation marking BMHW and announced new actions to “address our maternal mortality crisis, close disparities in maternal care and outcomes for all birthing people, and address the systemic racism that has allowed these inequities to exist.”
In response to the news, Dr. Jamila Taylor, director of health care reform at The Century Foundation and one of the nation’s leading maternal health experts, released the following statement:
“The Biden-Harris Administration’s maternal health equity steps announced today are both a recognition of the urgency and depth of the maternal health crisis in America, as well as a vindication of the movement led by Black women to bring maternal health equity into the national spotlight. These steps—increased funding, efforts to expand and extend Medicaid postpartum coverage, and improved access to care for rural communities—are what advocates and experts have been calling for years.
“President Biden and Vice President Harris should be applauded for their commitment to tackling our entrenched maternal health crisis. I look forward to working with them to not only implement these steps in an equitable fashion, but to work further to leverage the full force of the federal government to address the hardships that too many Black, Brown, and Native American women face when giving birth.”
Also this week, 77 members of both the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have joined together to cosponsor the 2021 Black Maternal Health Week Resolution. In response to the resolution, Dr. Taylor added:
“This year’s Black Maternal Health Week resolution is expansive and game-changing—a manifesto outlining the multiple and intersecting factors that impact the ability of Black women to birth safely and to do so with dignity and respect.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified so many inequities in American society, including those associated with the Black maternal health crisis. The adverse effects of the pandemic recession have been more pronounced for Black mothers. They’ve gone hand-in-hand with increased barriers to maternal and reproductive health care, limited safe options for outside of hospital births if Black mothers so choose, and the looming cloud of racial injustice that hangs over us and our families day in and day out.
“Despite these challenges, I remain hopeful for the day that Black women aren’t needlessly dying of preventable pregnancy-related causes, and our communities are able to be safe and thrive. Black Maternal Health Week is a time to pause and not only acknowledge the plight of Black mothers and birthing people, but also to reflect on meaningful solutions and hold space for Black women leaders who are charting the course for the way forward.”
For more information about America’s Black maternal health crisis, see TCF’s previous work here: