This was written by Trisha Dello Iacono, Moms Clean Air Force National Field Organizer:
It’s no secret that the US is woefully failing when it comes to Black maternal health. Maternal mortality among Black mothers is three to four times higher than among white mothers. It’s one of the starkest examples of racial disparities that I’ve ever encountered. As a mom to 4 young children, this disparity hits me hard. Every mother deserves equitable care.
What is less well-known is the connection between climate change and maternal health. Heat waves and extreme weather events are just two examples of how climate change can harm pregnant moms and their babies, adding an extra burden to Black mothers.
Today, Congress took a big step forward to improve Black maternal health, including easing the impacts of climate change on moms and babies, by introducing legislation that would address the inequitable birth outcomes that we are seeing in our country.
The Black Maternal Health Act of 2021, led by Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12) and Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Senator Cory Booker (NJ), comprises 12 pieces of legislation that address different aspects of the disparities that Black mothers face.
This act, known as the “Momnibus,” will, among other things:
- invest in organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes,
- address the social determinants that influence birth outcomes,
- grow and diversify the perinatal workforce,
- improve maternal mental health care and support for veterans and incarcerated mothers, and
- invest in federal programs to address the unique risks for and effects of Covid-19 during and after pregnancy.
In addition, the Momnibus includes a stand-alone bill, led by Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Senator Ed Markey (MA), focused on mitigating the impacts from climate change on moms and babies.
We know that communities of color are hardest hit by health impacts from climate change. The Protecting Moms and Babies Against Climate Change Act invests in community-based programs and calls for the identification of climate risk zones for pregnant and postpartum people.