April 14, 2021

Duckworth, Durbin, Colleagues Introduce Black Maternal Health Week Resolution


Twenty-two co-sponsors in the Senate and more than 47 in the House join resolution to raise national awareness of the state of Black maternal health in the United States

[WASHINGTON D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to introduce a resolution recognizing Black Maternal Health Week, “to bring national attention to the maternal health crisis in the United States and the importance of reducing maternal mortality and morbidity among Black women and birthing persons.” Black Maternal Health Week is observed from April 11 through April 17.

“It is absolutely unconscionable that hundreds of expectant and new moms are dying every year from preventable causes in this country,” Duckworth said. “For Black women especially, the rising maternal mortality rate and medical racism in our country is a crisis, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in the House and Senate in introducing this important resolution to bring awareness to this crisis. No one should die from preventable causes, and I will continue to work to improve our health system so mothers can feel safe and supported.”

“Too many families have lost mothers and children during pregnancy because of inequitable health care and inadequate medical intervention.  In Illinois, Black women are six times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy than white women.  We cannot ignore this blatant disparity that risks the lives of new moms,” said Durbin. “I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in introducing this resolution to bring attention to the pressing need for comprehensive and culturally competent maternal and postpartum health care for women and their babies.”

This resolution comes shortly after the Biden Administration has approved and signed Illinois’ 1115 waiver to extend health care coverage for new moms on Medicaid in Illinois from 60 days after pregnancy to a full year. Duckworth and Durbin, longtime champions of extending health care coverage for new mothers, have advocated for this change through the introduction of the MOMMA Act, inclusion of a provision in the American Rescue Plan to allow states a five-year option to extend coverage for new moms on Medicaid from 60 days to a full year, and by leading a letter with Representative Robin Kelly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting approval for Illinois’ 1115 waiver.  Illinois is the first state to expand this Medicaid coverage.

In addition to Duckworth, Durbin, Booker, and Menendez, the resolution is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Jackie Rosen (D-NV).  

U.S. Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12) and Lauren Underwood (IL-14) introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives earlier this week. 

The resolution is endorsed by more than 120 organizations, including Black Mamas Matter Alliance, National Birth Equity Collaborative, Center for Reproductive Rights, March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Public Health Association, National Urban League, and Ancient Song Doula Services. The full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.

A copy of the resolution can be viewed here