February 09, 2021

During Black History Month, Duckworth & Durbin Help Underwood Announce Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act to Address America’s Maternal Health Crisis


The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act includes a series of 12 bills to help save moms’ lives, end racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes and achieve maternal health justice. 

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) in unveiling the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021. The historic legislation makes critical investments in addressing social determinants of health, funding community-based organizations, growing and diversifying the perinatal workforce and improving data collection processes. The Momnibus also includes new legislation to address the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change on maternal and infant health.  

“It’s a tragedy every time a new mother dies from a preventable cause related to pregnancy or childbirth, and it’s shameful that far too often those new moms are women of color whose pain or symptoms have been overlooked or ignored,” Duckworth said. “We must address this urgent issue, which is why I’m proud to be joining Senator Booker and Representatives Underwood and Adams in announcing this comprehensive legislative package that will save lives and reduce disparities.”

“In the United States, Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die as a result of their pregnancy.  In Illinois, they are six times more likely than white women to die. This is a human tragedy and we must do something about it,” Durbin said. “Today, we are introducing a package of bills that will help reduce the Black maternal and infant mortality rate and support Black moms during pregnancy. These are strategies that can save lives and close the racial health disparity gap in America.”

"As maternal mortality rates continue to drop around the world, they are rising in the U.S., leaving behind devastated families and children who will grow up never knowing their moms. This crisis demands urgent attention and serious action to save the lives of Black mothers and all women of color and birthing people across the county," said Congresswoman Underwood, co-chair and co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. "I’m leading the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act with Representative Alma Adams,  Senator Cory Booker, and other Members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus because no mother should go through pregnancy, labor and delivery, or the postpartum period without the respectful care and comprehensive support they need and deserve. Together, we can – and must – take the bold actions that will be required to save our moms, end disparities, and achieve true maternal health justice.” 

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. Other mothers of color, including Hispanic, Native American and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women, also suffer from disproportionately high rates of adverse maternal health outcomes. 

A one-page summary of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act can be found here, and additional information about the individual bills in the Momnibus can be found on the Black Maternal Health Caucus website. A list of the 191 organizations endorsing the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act can be found here.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is composed of twelve individual bills sponsored by Black Maternal Health Caucus Members that would:

1. Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, such as housing, transportation, and nutrition.  

2. Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.  

3. Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant and postpartum veterans and support VA maternity care coordination programs.  

4. Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure that every mom in America receives culturally congruent maternity care and support.  

5. Improve data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis in the United States and inform solutions to address it.  

6.  Support moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.  

7. Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.  

8.  Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.  

9.  Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to 1 year postpartum.  

10. Invest in federal programs to address the unique risks for and effects of COVID-19 during and after pregnancy and to advance respectful maternity care in future public health emergencies.  

11. Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.  

12. Promote maternal vaccinations to protect the health and safety of moms and babies.  

In addition, lead Senate sponsors of individual bills included in the package include:

  • Social Determinants for Moms Act (Sen. Blumenthal)
  • Protecting Moms who Served Act (Sen. Duckworth)
  • Perinatal Workforce Act (Sens. Baldwin & Merkley)
  • Data to Save Moms Act (Sen. Smith)
  • Moms Matter Act (Sen. Gillibrand)
  • Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act (Sens. Booker, Durbin, Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
  • Tech to Save Moms Act (Sen. Menendez)
  • IMPACT to Save Moms Act (Sen. Casey)
  • Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act (Sen. Warren)
  • Protecting Moms and Babies Against Climate Change Act (Sen. Markey)
  • Maternal Vaccinations Act (Sen. Kaine)