President Biden Establishes Black Maternal Health Week

President Joe Biden has established April 11 through 17 as Black Maternal Health Week. The administration’s first-ever proclamation is part of a broader effort to highlight racial disparities in maternal mortality rates in the U.S.

Black women in America are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy- and birth-related complications than white women. Additionally, black infants are twice as likely to die than white infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I call upon all Americans to raise awareness of the state of Black maternal health in the United States by understanding the consequences of systemic discrimination, recognizing the scope of this problem and the need for urgent solutions, amplifying the voices and experiences of Black women, families, and communities, and committing to building a world in which Black women do not have to fear for their safety, their wellbeing, their dignity, and their lives before, during, and after pregnancy,” the proclamation read.

“Black women in our country are facing a maternal health crisis,” Vice President Kamala Harris said at a roundtable event on April 13. “We know the primary reasons why: systemic racial inequities and implicit bias.”

To help reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, the administration plans to:

  • invest $200 million in implicit bias training, state pregnancy medical home programs, and more
  • increase funding for the Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights by 24%
  • increase funding of the Title X Family Planning program by 18.7% to improve access to reproductive and preventative health services
  • offer states the option to extend postpartum health coverage to one year through a Medicaid waiver

Sources: Axios, April 13, 2021; White House proclamation, April 13, 2021.