COLUMBUS— The Ohio Black Maternal Caucus (OBMHC) today recognized the start of Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17), 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.
"The Black Maternal Health Caucus is the first of its kind in Ohio, and we are focused on working together to ultimately save black mothers’ lives, improve health outcomes and strengthen our communities,” said Rep. Howse. “We encourage everyone to join this year’s #BMHW2020 as we continue to be an active force in creating better lives and brighter futures for our Black mothers and babies.”
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.
Boyd emphasized the need to continue taking action to address health disparities beyond this awareness week.
“Black Maternal Health Week is more than just a time to raise awareness. This is our moment to take action and fix a broken political system which has caused profound disparities in Black maternal outcomes,” said Rep. Boyd. “The situation with COVID-19 is a perfect example of the underlining problems that the Black community faces. The U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, has stated that African Americans are disproportionately dying from COVID-19. In order to create an equitable outcome, we need to speak the truth about how we got here.”
“We can trace this to policies that have permitted generational redlining and food deserts; the war on drugs versus an addiction crisis; pay disparities that cause Black women to earn 62 cents for every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men; the implicit or explicit bias from medical professionals, and so much as compounding evidence that Black maternal health disparities were created by a racist political system. I will continue to speak out against these injustices, not just for Black Maternal Health Week. I look forward to working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues; together, we can move forward to solve these problems, as long as we remain honest and committed.”
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.