As Black Maternal Health Week 2019 comes to a close, House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and state Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today announced the initial meeting of the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus, the state’s first-ever group of state lawmakers dedicated to improving black maternal health across the state. Members will meet in Columbus early next month to discuss the group’s mission and shared vision to strengthen Ohio women, children, families and communities.
“The promise of a better life and brighter future in Ohio can’t be restricted to one ideology, gender or race,” said Leader Sykes. “Until everyone has the chance to live up to their God-given promise, we can’t grow or be competitive as a state. To restore Ohio’s promise, we need to cut through the partisan, divisive rhetoric and begin to have real, honest conversations about how we can keep Black mothers, babies and communities healthy in Ohio.”
Democratic lawmakers are currently working to strengthen language in the two-year state budget dedicated to reducing maternal mortality, including more funding for home visits, programs to link pregnant mothers to healthcare services, expanding post-partum care initiatives and increasing funds for treatment for mothers and babies born with opioid addiction.
“I’m encouraged by the outpouring of support and interest we’ve seen, and look forward to working together to create a framework for the future to restore the promise of Ohio for Black women and families,” said Rep. Boyd. “Still, in recent days, hateful and extreme rhetoric I’ve experienced further proves what Black women face in America when they advocate for control over their own bodies and healthcare. It underscores just how much work we have before us.”
Founding members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus include House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), state Reps. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), Erica Crawley (D-Columbus), Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo), Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland), Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati), Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown), and state Sens. Tina Maharath (D-Columbus) and Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland).
Wednesday marks the end of Black Maternal Health Week, which promotes awareness and seeks to advance and improve black maternal health outcomes across the country.