WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lawmakers on Capitol Hill launched a new caucus aimed at raising awareness about the mortality rate among Black mothers.
- Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications, according to the CDC
- Between 2011 and 2014, data from the CDC shows that there were roughly 40 deaths for every 100,000 live births among Black women
- The new caucus has more than 60 members from the U.S. House
“Black women and their families are counting on us. Enough is enough," said Rep. Alma Adams, D-12th District, at the launch event for the congressional caucus. Adams co-chairs the Black Maternal Health Caucus alongside Illinois Democrat Lauren Underwood.
In the United States, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications than white women, according to data from the CDC. Adams says that death rate is not tied to income or education level.
Adams and other lawmakers say more must be done to help make sure Black women have access to care they need. They hope the caucus can help push for change.
“Structural racism, gender oppression, and social determinants of health inequalities experienced by Black women in America significantly contribute to the high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity among Black women,” Adams said.
Between 2011 and 2014, data from the CDC shows that there were roughly 40 deaths for every 100,000 live births among Black women. By comparison, during that same time period, there were 12.4 deaths per 100,000 live births among white women.
Advocates say the impact extends beyond just the mortality rate.
“For every woman that dies, there are dozens more that suffer consequences that they live with for the rest of their lives such as having had a blood transfusion or potentially a hysterectomy,” said Elizabeth Dawes Gay, co-director of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.
So far, the new caucus has more than 60 members from the U.S. House. Almost all of them are Democrats. Can they make a difference in a divided Washington?
“These issues that we talk about impact people in every district, whether this is a district that's a Republican district,” Adams said. “If they are truly concerned about the constituents in their districts, if constituents matter, then this particular issue should matter, too.”
Adams’ office says the fight is just getting started. In the future, the caucus is looking at introducing legislation aimed at combatting the problem.