By Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.)
Black mothers are dying and it’s time to do something about it.
Every year, more than 700 American mothers lose their lives to pregnancy or birth-related complications. Some medical professionals estimate that at least half, if not more, of these deaths are entirely preventable.
While the deaths of 700-plus American mothers should shock us all, the statistics are much worse for African American mothers. We are three-to-four times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than our White counterparts. A 2010-2011 survey of maternal deaths in Philadelphia found that three-quarters of those deaths were Black mothers.
These shocking statistics cut across class, education level, and socio-economic status. Earlier this year, Serena Williams shared her own story of nearly losing her life.
She, like too many other women, was ignored when she raised concerns about her own health and body. If this tragedy can befall a wealthy, world-class athlete who’s deeply in tuned with her own body, it could, and does, happen to anyone.
Sadly, the situation is getting worse, not better. American mothers are dying at higher rates every year.
Globally, we’ve had real success in pushing down the rates of mothers needlessly dying, especially in Africa and the Caribbean. Yet at the same time, the U.S. is one of a handful of nations where the number of mothers dying is increasing.
We can and must do better. All mamas deserve the chance to be mamas.
That’s why I’ve introduced the “Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness Act” or the MOMMA Act, for short. This comprehensive legislation takes a multi-pronged approach to ending maternal mortality through increased access to care, expanded culturally-competent training and standardized data collection.