Congress considers legislation aimed at preventing maternal deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill heard urgent pleas Thursday to improve Black maternal health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of women dying from pregnancy in the United States is on the rise. They say more than 60 percent of those deaths are preventable.

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It’s a problem that disproportionately affects black women, who are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.

Charles Johnson’s wife Kira bled internally for 10 hours after a routine C-Section and died.

The tragedy prompted Johnson to create a non-profit in his wife’s name, dedicated to advocating for improved maternal health policies.

“There were three and a half liters of blood in my wife’s abdomen from where she had been allowed to bleed and suffer needlessly,” Johnson says.

On Thursday, lawmakers on Capitol Hill discussed the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, legislation aimed at preventing maternal deaths and complications.

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It’s a bi-partisan issue, with both parties introducing bills last year.

The bill introduced this year would fund community-based organizations that work to improve maternal health. It would also improve data collection and expand postpartum medicaid coverage.

Charles Johnson is urging Congress to make those life-saving changes

“My wife, Kira, won’t wake up to breakfast in bed this mother’s day because she gave birth in a country that didn’t see her, that didn’t value her,” Johnson says.

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Maternal health legislation was introduced into congress last year as the coronavirus pandemic struck, but it neer passed into law.

Lawmakers say they’re hopeful it will pass both chambers this time around.