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Press Release AG Healey Calls on Congress to Pass Black Maternal Health Bill

Legislation Will Increase Access to Prenatal and Perinatal Care for Black Women
For immediate release:
5/06/2021
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG Healey Calls on Congress to Pass Black Maternal Health Bill

Emalie Gainey

BOSTONMassachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in urging Congress to pass legislation to address the high Black maternal mortality rate by increasing access to maternal and perinatal care for Black women.

As Mother’s Day approaches, the coalition sent a letter to Congress calling for the passage of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 (H.R. 959/S. 346) to address the social determinants of the Black maternal mortality crisis, including improving access to housing, transportation and nutrition services. The legislation will ensure that Black mothers – who die at a rate three to four times higher than white mothers – have equitable access to care at all stages of pregnancy.

“Pregnancy should be a time of joy, but longstanding inequities in our health care system have made it a traumatic experience for too many Black women,” AG Healey said. “This legislative package is a critical component of how we can rebuild our health care system to focus on the safety of Black women.”

The Momnibus legislative package includes the Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act of 2021 (H.R. 948), filed by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Congresswoman Pressley’s bill will improve maternal health care and support for pregnant individuals who are incarcerated. The Congresswoman is also a co-sponsor of H.R. 959, as are Congresswomen Katherine Clark and Lori Trahan, and Congressmen Bill Keating and Jake Auchincloss. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ed Markey are co-sponsors of S. 346.

“A safe and healthy pregnancy should be a fundamental human right, not a privilege, but far too many people still lack the care they need for themselves and their babies—including women behind the wall,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “The Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act would center the dignity of pregnant people behind the wall by creating systems to protect the health and dignity of incarcerated people and enlist them as partners in our fight for justice and equity. I am grateful to Attorney General Healey for her support of this year’s Momnibus package, which would help address the growing maternal mortality crisis in Black communities, and I look forward to working together to end the maternal mortality crisis once and for all.”

The legislative package addresses the Black maternal mortality crisis by increasing grant funding, enhancing data collection and improving community programs. Many risk factors play into increased rates of maternal mortality, including preexisting conditions, socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, and implicit bias and discrimination in health care. The legislation seeks to provide funding to community-based mental health organizations; diversify the perinatal workforce; improve maternal health care for mothers with mental health conditions, substance use disorders, and those who are incarcerated; enhance postpartum care; and promote maternal health innovation such as telehealth, maternal vaccinations, and payment options from pregnancy through the postpartum period.

If passed, the policy changes would benefit individual state programs by increasing funding, furthering access to community supports and enhancing education services for mothers. More broadly, the legislation would assist state attorneys general in working to protect residents against race-based discrimination within the health care system.

Joining AG Healey in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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Media Contact for AG Healey Calls on Congress to Pass Black Maternal Health Bill

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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