Keeping Black mothers alive: NC representatives introduce act to reduce Black maternal mortality

North Carolina

Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12) and three other lawmakers announced Monday 12 pieces of legislation aimed at reducing Black maternal mortality.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 includes funding for community organizations, calls for improved diversity in healthcare and better data collection.

Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to die during childbirth and immediately postpartum. Rep Adams said Monday she nearly lost her daughter.

“Their dismissal of her pain almost cost my daughter her life,” she said during a virtual news conference.  “We’re going to get this done. We’re going to get this done for Black mamas because our mamas can’t wait.”

Jean Workman serves as the executive director for the Guilford County Coalition on Infant Mortality. She explained Tuesday that action from the act could help better protect families.

“For every one white baby that died, three black babies died in Guilford County, and this is not a new trend for us,” she said.

Workman said the coalition is working to shift its strategies to take a more comprehensive approach when it comes to supporting expecting mothers.

“We’re done looking at it from that individual level and wanting to tackle what’s happening from a systems level to make real change happen,” she said.

One of the proposed bills focuses on investments in housing, nutrition and transportation. Healthy Beginnings Director Felicia Connelly said those are some of the biggest challenges facing pregnant women in the Triad.

“Not just looking at that big picture but hitting those small pieces that make that puzzle,” Connelly said.

She also wants to see healthcare professionals representing the communities they serve.

“A lot of times in doctor’s offices, the diversity is a little challenged. I think education in the community is definitely a big part,” Connelly added.

If signed into law, the legislative package would also support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders and improve health care and support for incarcerated moms.

80 lawmakers have signed on to the proposal in support.

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