Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., is sponsoring legislation in Congress to address the rise in maternal mortality rates.
She announced the legislation, MOMMA Act, at a press conference May 12 at UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial in Harvey. Kelly, who represents Homewood and Flossmoor in Congress, is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.
Kelly’s bill will support the Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health, a national alliance of hospitals, providers, state health departments and women’s health organizations that are working to implement standardized obstetric protocols across the country.
“For decades, the global rate of women dying from, during and after childbirth has been steadily declining. At the same time, the number of American mothers dying has been increasing,” Kelly said. “Hundreds of American mothers are dying; it’s time for Congress to do something about it.”
With an estimated 700 American women dying each year from pregnancy or childbirth complications, the U.S. maternal mortality rate is the highest among developed nations. Some experts estimate that as many as half of these deaths are preventable.
And of those deaths, African American women are three to four times more likely to die than their white counterparts. Black women in Illinois are 350 percent more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than their white counterparts, Kelly said. Chicago and suburban Cook County have rates of severe maternal morbidity that are much higher than other parts of Illinois, she added.
The legislation has won the support of multiple organizations and experts dedicated to preserving and advancing women’s health.