Today (June 26) the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is set to hold a hearing on the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2017. Introduced by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), the act seeks to decrease the number of women who die during or following pregnancy.
“When women in the United States are dying from pregnancy complications more than any other developed nation, we’re dealing with a health crisis,” Heitkamp said in a statement. “There is no reason the United States should be the only industrialized country where maternal deaths are on the rise. That’s unacceptable, and we need to get to the bottom of why that’s happening—and fast—and find solutions. That’s exactly what our bipartisan bill would do. By expanding resources that work to study why pregnancy-related deaths are happening, we can better protect expecting mothers and families, and make sure they have access to the support, like rural hospitals, they need to for healthy pregnancies and to have healthy babies.”
As bill supporter The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes in a letter to Congress, Black women are subject to maternal mortality at nearly four times the rate of their White counterparts. Studies show that the stress of racism is a major factor in this disparity.
By reviewing the cause of death for each individual case of maternal mortality and providing recommendations that will hopefully be implemented by states to address maternal deaths, this legislation will help enable health systems to address the factors leading to the disproportionate deaths of Black mamas and put recommendations in place to begin addressing racial disparities that have been present and unchanged for decades.
The hearing starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Watch it live or later here.