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Rep. Kelly Calls for Action on Maternal Mortality on Mother’s Day

May 10, 2020
Press Release

Matteson, IL - Congresswoman Robin Kelly, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, released this statement marking Mother’s Day and challenged policymakers to end America’s embarrassing maternal mortality crisis:

“This Mother’s Day may feel different for many this year, separated because of social distancing and uncertainty. Normally, our families celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, stepmothers and all the women who love and nurture us with brunches, flowers, cards and backyard BBQs.

While most families will adapt with calls and Zooms, too many Americans are spending this, and all Mother’s Days without the moms in their lives, because of maternal mortality. 

Between 700 and 900 American kids begin their lives without moms, each year. These kids will never know their moms or celebrate a Mother’s Day with her because of the maternal mortality crisis. Most shocking, CDC estimates that 60 percent of these deaths are entirely preventable.

As our nation fights the COVID-19 pandemic, this new challenge is exacerbating maternal inequalities. Increasingly, hospitals, including those on Chicago’s South Side, are ceasing pregnancy services and creating potential barriers to care.  

It worries me that it is more dangerous for my daughters to have a baby today than it was for me more than 20 years ago.

We can and must do better because all mommas deserve the chance to be mommas.

Last Congress, I fought to pass the bipartisan Preventing Maternal Deaths Act into law, which standardized data and reporting for maternal mortality.

However, much more action is needed! I have proposed a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach called the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness (MOMMAs) Act, and the more tailored and bipartisan, the Helping MOMS Act, which incentivize states to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms to the entire postpartum period of one year.

The MOMMAs Act expands programs proven to reduce and prevent maternal mortality, like best shared practices, emergency obstetric protocols and review committees. It also expands Medicaid coverage to the entire postpartum period because more than 70 percent of new moms will have at least one complication within a year of giving birth. All new mothers should be able to see their doctors and get the care they need.

While we are seeing approximately the same rate of maternal deaths regardless of a woman’s income, education level or other demographics, the recent CDC report shows that black, American Indian and Native Alaskan mothers are dying at much higher rates. The MOMMAs Act addresses this disparity by investing in culturally competent care throughout the care continuum.

As a Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I appreciate Chairman Pallone’s and Chairwoman Eshoo’s continuing leadership as we work to save mothers’ lives. Since they assumed leadership of this critical committee, we have had a number of hearings and mark-ups designed to prevent, reduce and end maternal mortality in America.

The inequalities in healthcare have never been more on display than with COVID-19. We can, and we must take action to end these disparities in healthcare.

On this Mother’s Day, I challenge my colleagues to stand with me and protect mothers’ lives.”


Robin Kelly



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