Senator Seeks to Save Lives, Root Out Disparities in Maternal Health for People of Color

WASHINGTON, D.C. [2/23/21]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith introduced legislation to address America's worsening maternal mortality crisis, which has a disproportionate impact on Black, Brown, Indigenous and all People of Color. The Data to Save Moms Act seeks to understand the root causes of this emergency by improving data collection on maternal mortality and morbidity. 

Sen. Smith said that the United States is the only industrialized country with an increasing maternal mortality rate, and that it's one that discriminates. African American, Native and Indigenous women are two and a half times as likely to die due to a pregnancy related complication as white women. 

 “I believe in the fundamental value that all people who give birth should be able to access high quality health care,” said Sen. Smith. “America's increasing maternal mortality rate, and the disparities in maternal health outcomes for People of Color is a national emergency. My legislation will identify the root causes of this problem so we can tackle them head on. This is about establishing maternal health justice—especially for People of Color.”

 “We are committed to addressing the underlying root causes of maternal mortality and morbidity and applaud Senator Tina Smith and Representative Sharice Davids for introducing the Data to Save Moms Act, which will improve data collection to advance equitable responses to the ongoing maternal health crisis,” said March of Dimes President and CEO Stacey D. Stewart. “The staggering maternal mortality rates women, particularly for Black and Indigenous women of color, face in the nation is an unacceptable trend that must be addressed without further delay. We are pleased this bill will take important steps to ensure the voices of pregnant people inform an equitable response to the maternal mortality crisis through comprehensive data collection.”

The Data to Save Moms Act will:  

  • Establish a grant program to promote representative community engagement in Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) in states across the country. 
  • Commission the first-ever comprehensive study to understand the scope of the Native American maternal health crisis.
  • Provide funding to establish the first Tribal MMRC.
  • Conduct a comprehensive review of maternal health data collection, emphasizing the importance of listening to the stories of pregnant people.
  • Invest in maternal health research at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AAPISIs).

In addition to Sen. Smith, the Data to Save Moms Act is supported by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Representative Sharice Davids (KS-03) introduced the House companion bill. 

You can read a summary of the bill here and bill text here.

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