COLUMBUS— Rep. Erica C. Crawley (D-Columbus) and the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus (OBMHC) today recognized the start of Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17) this weekend, which promotes awareness and seeks to advance and improve black maternal health outcomes across the country.
The caucus will honor the week with a social media campaign that will allow constituents to learn about maternal health disparities and advocate for reproductive and birth justice for black women in Ohio virtually.
“Currently, women are going into a healthcare system that does not treat everyone fairly or equitably, and Black women are paying the consequence. This is unacceptable. Black women are dying at more than two and a half times the rate of white women. In Ohio, Black women make up 17 percent of women giving birth but account for 34 percent of pregnancy-related deaths,” said Crawley. “When 57 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths in Ohio between 2012 and 2016 were preventable, it reveals that we are in a crisis. Black Maternal Health Week not only brings awareness to this issue, but it also highlights the work that is being done in Ohio and across the country to eliminate this disparity.”
Black Maternal Health Week this year comes at a time when many women are giving birth in unprecedented circumstances due to the COVID-19 health crisis. COVID-19 is placing increased strain on a U.S. maternal healthcare system that already has the worst maternal mortality rate in the world. Some health experts fear that the virus will exacerbate existing maternal health disparities. The caucus’ social media campaign will include a day devoted to examining the impact of COVID-19 on black maternal health.
OBMHC has introduced several bills to improve black maternal health outcomes in Ohio, including:
- House Bill (HB) 434 (Crawley) to modify the Pregnancy Associated Mortality Review (PAMR) Board;
- HB 435, or the “Save Our Mothers Act”, (Crawley) to improve standards of maternal healthcare and address cultural competency trainings;
- HB 91 (Boyd/ Boggs) to create the Family and Medical Leave Program;
- HB 11, (Howse) to improve prenatal and maternal health outcomes;
- HCR 15 (Ingram) urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow states greater flexibility in administering SNAP benefits.
For more information and to see a schedule of virtual events for Black Maternal Health Week, follow @OhioBMHC on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.