National Black Caucus of State Legislators Recognizes Maternal Health Awareness Day, January 23

National Black Caucus of State Legislators Recognizes Maternal Health Awareness Day, January 23

Maternal mortality rate for Black women is 2–3 times greater than white and Hispanic women

WASHINGTON, D.C.— January 23, 2024—To help stem the maternal health access crisis spreading across America, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) recognizes Maternal Health Awareness Day and urges state legislators throughout the country to restore and protect access to critical support services to improve the health, safety and lives of patients—particularly Black women.

According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, maternal mortality rates among Black women had a significant statistical year-over-year increase of deaths per 100,000 live births from 2020 (55.3) to 2021 (69.9), and nearly doubled from 37.3 in 2018 to 69.9 in 2021.

“This is a clear and alarming pattern creating a watershed moment for Black maternal health,” said Representative Laura Hall (AL), President of NBCSL. “The medical community can’t do it alone. State legislators are in prime position to partner with them and work with local governments to create structural policy changes and community-led solutions to help address the underlying causes and reverse the plight of America’s Black mothers.”

As the nation’s premier organization representing and serving the interests of African American State legislators, NBCSL calls on its members to work with fellow state legislators to address maternity care deserts in their states, seek ways to open labor and delivery centers, review variations of quality healthcare, and understand and address the contributing factors leading to racial health disparities such as implicit bias and cultural and structural racism.

“One woman dying while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy is too many, but to see the overwhelming number of Black women dying is unconscionable,” said Tennessee State Senator and Chair of the NBCSL Health and Human Services Policy Committee London Lamar. “Maternal mortality occurs in rural and urban communities, it impacts women from all races, and it is absolutely preventable for most women. We must take care of America’s Black mothers, and that requires systemic changes based on race and systematic support during pregnancy and the first 12 months following delivery.”

At NBCSL’s 47th Annual Legislative Conference in November 2023, Senator Lamar sponsored Resolution HHS-24-36 “Ensuring Equitable Health Outcomes,” which was one of the many ratified policy resolutions for 2024 that were transmitted to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and other federal and state government officials as appropriate.

Highlights of the resolution include the imperative belief that people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds have equitable access to treatment and recognizes that health inequities are often rooted in community-level factors. The resolution also states that each state should examine value assessment metrics as one of many tools available to decisionmakers and ensure that any data used reflect the diversity of and inequities faced by patient populations. Similarly, the resolution calls for discouraging use of any discriminatory metrics, and work to ensure that all metrics take into account full racial and ethnic data when appropriate.

Learn more about NBCSL and their work on behalf of Black Americans at www.nbcsl.org.

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 NBCSL is the nation’s premier organization exclusively serving the interests of African American state legislators. With more than 700 members collectively representing over 60 million Americans, NBCSL serves as a national network, advocate and catalyst for public policy innovation, information exchange, and joint action on critical issues. Visit nbcsl.org to learn more.