Climate change threatens our health, but some bear a heavier burden than others. That’s especially true for pregnant moms, who are vulnerable to heat waves, extreme weather, and other climate impacts. As the climate crisis heats up, we need to act to keep mothers and babies safe.
At the same time, the US is facing a maternal mortality crisis. In the richest nation on earth, moms are dying at the highest rate in the developed world. The crisis is most severe for Black moms in the US, who are dying at 3 to 4 times the rate of their white counterparts.
Congress took a big step forward to improve Black maternal health by introducing the Black Maternal Health Act, or “Momnibus,” in 2021. This package of 12 bills aims to address different aspects of the Black maternal health crisis. It was accompanied by a stand-alone bill, introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Senator Ed Markey (MA), specifically focused on mitigating the impacts of climate change on moms and babies, the Protecting Moms and Babies Against Climate Change Act.
The Black Maternal Health Act of 2021
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.
The Black Maternal Health Act, known as the “Momnibus,” will, among other things:
- invest in organizations that are working to improve the health of mothers and their babies,
- improve the conditions where people live, learn, work, and play, in order to improve the health of newborns,
- grow and diversify the ranks of nurses, midwives, doulas, and other birthing professionals who help support pregnant women and their newborns,
- 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. Their 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.
This is a historic step to end America’s maternal mortality crisis and achieve maternal health justice—while addressing some of the grave health impacts of climate change on pregnant moms.