Legislation aims to address maternal mortality crisis among veterans
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Washington, D.C. – Today, the Protecting Moms Who Served Act – a bill authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) – was signed into law. The legislation, which passed both chambers of Congress by overwhelming margins, will help to address the maternal mortality crisis among women veterans by helping improve care at VA facilities and shed light on the scope of this crisis, particularly among women of color.
There are more than half a million women veterans in our nation who are under the age of 40. The Protecting Moms Who Served Act will commission the first-ever comprehensive study on the scope of America’s maternal health crisis among women veterans—with a focus on racial and ethnic disparities on maternal health outcomes—while also supporting maternal care coordination programs at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.
“Providing support to our veterans and those who serve today is among our greatest obligations. The U.S. has an unacceptably high maternal mortality rate with stark racial disparities, and the impact of this crisis on women veterans is not well understood,” said Senator Collins. “This legislation Senator Duckworth and I partnered on will help examine ways to improve care coordination, identify gaps in coverage, and eliminate racial disparities. Now that our bill has been signed into law, the U.S. can help ensure that the brave women who have served in our military receive the maternal care they have earned.”
“It’s a tragedy every time a mother dies from a preventable cause related to pregnancy or childbirth, and it’s shameful that far too often these moms are women of color whose pain or symptoms have been overlooked or ignored,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m so proud that President Biden signed this bipartisan bill I introduced with Senator Collins and Representative Underwood—which would help address our nation’s growing maternal mortality crisis by helping ensure the pregnancy complications of all women Veterans are not overlooked or ignored—into law today.”
The maternal mortality rate has been climbing in the U.S. even while it has been declining in other high-income countries. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the maternal mortality rate for 2019 was 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, which was significantly higher than the rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2018. Considerable racial disparities in pregnancy-related mortality exist. During 2014–2017, the maternal mortality rate for Black women was 41.7 deaths per 100,000 live births and the mortality rate for American Indian or Alaska Native women was 28.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the rate was 13.4 deaths per 100,000 live births for non-Hispanic White women.
Specifically, the Protecting Moms Who Served Act would address this crisis by:
The Protecting Moms Who Served Act has been endorsed by over 150 organizations, including: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; NAACP; Society for Women’s Health Research; Women Veterans Interactive; and Wounded Warrior Project.