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Legislation to Safeguard Maternal Health During Coronavirus Pandemic

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Underwood, Warren Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Safeguard Maternal Health During Coronavirus Pandemic

The Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act would ensure pregnant people - especially pregnant people of color - are included in the federal government’s coronavirus public health response

The Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act would: 

  • Improve Data Collection, Research, and Surveillance Initiatives. The bill requires the CDC to coordinate, collect, and publicly post data related to COVID-19 and pregnancy disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and state. The bill also authorizes funding for CDC’s pregnancy surveillance programs and the National Institutes of Health’s research programs.
  • Ensure the Inclusion of Pregnant People in Vaccine and Therapeutic Development for COVID-19. This bill directs the NIH to ensure that at least one COVID-19 vaccine is developed and made available for use in pregnancy and lactation. It adds reporting and data collection requirements for COVID-19 therapeutic and vaccine developers regarding their product’s use in pregnancy and lactation. And it emphasizes the inclusion of pregnant people, including those from underrepresented populations, in clinical trials when safe and appropriate.
  • Improve Public Health Information and Communication for Pregnant People. The bill directs the CDC to undertake a robust public health education effort aimed at informing pregnant people, their employers, and their providers about the latest evidence-based health information. It also requires the Secretary of Labor to issue an emergency temporary standard for pregnant workers and all workers.
  • Ensure Lasting Maternal Health Care and Birthing Experience Improvements. The bill defines anti-racist, culturally congruent, and respectful maternity care and seeks to improve the provision of this type of care. It creates a Task Force on Birthing Experience and Safe, Respectful Maternity Care to develop federal recommendations to ensure the provision of quality, nondiscriminatory maternity care and the improvement of maternal health outcomes during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It also mandates a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency to assess the delivery of maternal care during the pandemic and make recommendations for future pandemic preparedness and response related to maternal care



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Harris, Warren, Underwood, Colleagues Announce Bicameral Legislation to Combat Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Crisis During COVID-19 Pandemic

U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Monday joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL), along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Tina Smith (D-MN), in introducing the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act to improve research and data collection, safeguard the health of pregnant and postpartum individuals, and dedicate resources to combat the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation confronts the structural racism that drives disparities in maternal health outcomes by prioritizing racial equity and tasking the federal government with improving the delivery of and access to anti-racist, culturally congruent, and respectful maternity care. In 2018, Harris introduced legislation addressing the biases in our nation’s health care system that have contributed to the Black maternal mortality crisis. In March, Harris and Underwood introduced the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which includes nine bills to comprehensively address the Black maternal health crisis.


H.R.6142 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020



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The Impact of the Pandemic on Pregnancy: A Research Response

HHS is committed to strengthening maternal health and ending health disparities through research efforts that address life-threatening pregnancy complications


Maternal health and health disparities are key priorities for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Our commitment continues through ongoing research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to address life-threatening pregnancy complications. The statistics surrounding maternal mortality and morbidity are staggering: On average, every 12 hours, a woman dies from complications from pregnancy or giving birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 60% of these deaths are preventable. Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women are about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause, compared to white women, Hispanic women and Asian/Pacific Islander women.