WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a Member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus — helped introduce a federal resolution that would recognize the ongoing maternal and infant mortality crisis impacting women and families in Virginia and across the country.
These escalating maternal mortality rates are uneven across racial divides. In Virginia specifically, Black mothers are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women — with at least two-thirds of these deaths being preventable.
The text of the Spanberger-cosponsored resolution — led by U.S. Representative A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) — urges federal action to reduce staggering rates of mortality and morbidity among American women, as well as to mitigate disparities in maternal health outcomes between racial groups. Additionally, it calls for federal policies that can raise public awareness about this issue, encourage all levels of government to cooperate on improving maternal health outcomes, and promote initiatives that address inequalities in maternal health resources.
“As we rebuild from the pandemic and look to make Virginia stronger, we have an opportunity to address longstanding disparities within our communities. Across our Commonwealth and throughout our nation, we continue to see a disturbing trend — mothers are dying during childbirth at unacceptable rates, particularly in our African American, Hispanic, and Native communities. Action is long overdue on this issue of life and death,” said Spanberger. “Protecting the lives of women and infants in childbirth, as well as during their postpartum months, should be a priority for lawmakers and the general public. I am proud to stand alongside Congressman McEachin as we raise awareness about these deaths, prevent future tragedies, and build a Virginia that supports healthier mothers and families.”
“As the father to two daughters, the maternal mortality crisis is personal to me. The United States has the highest maternal morbidity rates of any developed country, and the issue impacts women across the nation,” said McEachin. “Racial disparities in maternal health outcomes are evidence of long-standing inequities in our health care system and must be addressed. I will continue working with advocates in Virginia and my colleagues in Congress to lower maternal mortality rates throughout the country.”
The resolution is also cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14).
In the United States, more women are dying of pregnancy-related complications than in any other industrialized country — and these deaths rates continue to rise. Between 1991 and 2014, the U.S. maternal mortality rate more than doubled from 10.3 to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 births.
Click here to read the full text of the resolution.
In March 2021, Spanberger voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, which gives states the option to extend Medicaid coverage for new moms up to 12 months postpartum. Prior to this change, many mothers lost their Medicaid coverage only 60 days postpartum, creating a significant gap in coverage. Medicaid covers about 40 percent of births in the United States.
In August 2020, Spanberger convened a roundtable discussion with maternal and community health professionals from across Central Virginia to discuss the ongoing crisis in Black maternal health, as well as the challenges maternal and community healthcare providers were facing in the sixth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And earlier in 2020, Spanberger helped introduce the Black maternal health “Momnibus,” a legislative package that includes historic investments in community organizations that are working to improve Black maternal health outcomes, efforts to improve data collection and increase the study of the unique health risks facing minority women, digital tools like telehealth that can reach underserved areas, and efforts to recruit and train a diverse perinatal workforce.