WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Democrats are elevating calls to pass legislation to protect the health of expecting mothers following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
They say the ruling disproportionately harms Black women, who already die from pregnancy-related issues at higher rates.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications compared to white women. A study from the University of Colorado Boulder found pregnancy-related deaths among Black women could spike 33% after many states outlaw abortion.
Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said it’s vital Congress take action to protect Black mothers.
“Lives are at stake,” Kelly said. “This will determine who lives and who doesn’t.”
Kelly said one way to help reduce harm is the MOMMA’s Act, which would ensure mothers on Medicaid have permanent access to postpartum care for a full year. Congress extended postpartum coverage last year but Kelly said it’s only temporary.
She said she’s hoping to have the MOMMA’s Act included in a larger package Senate Democrats are currently negotiating. Senators say they are hoping to pass that package before the year is over.
While speaking at the NAACP convention on Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris pledged to close that gap, not just for Black women but also for rural and low-income mothers who all die at higher rates.
“It will be a national priority,” Harris said at the convention.
Last year, Democrats tried but failed to pass similar maternal health reforms inside their Build Back Better plan.
Republicans like Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., say the best way to improve outcomes for mothers is by lowering the cost of health care.
“Right now it is absolutely unaffordable for working people in this country, no matter what their racial background or geographic background, it is simply not tenable,” Hawley said.