House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) signed on as a co-sponsor to a resolution that the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus (OBMHC) is introducing to recognize Black Maternal Health Week in Ohio. Black Maternal Health Week (April 11-17) is an annual event that promotes awareness and seeks to advance and improve Black maternal health outcomes across the country.
“Black Maternal Health Week gives us the space to advocate for Black Ohioans who deserve to feel safe and secure during the pre- and post-natal process,” said Leader Sykes. “While Black Maternal Health Week identifies and works to dismantle structural issues that prevent optimal wellness in Black caregivers, this agenda will prove to be supportive to all people in this state as they embark upon parenthood and ensures equity and reproductive justice in parenting.”
Black Maternal Health Week this year comes as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues nationwide, leaving some pregnant people unsure about whether they should receive the vaccine. While there is limited data available on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant people, recent studies suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding people, and may even offer some protection for babies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women have a pregnancy related death rate that is three to four times higher than that of white women. To learn more about Black maternal health, including how you can get more involved, visit https://blackmamasmatter.org/bmhc-2021/.
The caucus’ social media campaign will include a day devoted to examining the impact of COVID-19 on Black maternal health.
OBMHC has introduced several bills to improve Black maternal health outcomes in Ohio, including:
- House Bill 233 (Boyd, Crawley): Create the Pay Equity Hotline to address pay discrimination;
- HB 42 (Crawley): Save Our Mothers Act to improve standards of maternal healthcare and address cultural competency trainings;
- HB 142 (Crawley): To provide Medicaid reimbursement to birthing people in Ohio who utilize doula services;
In the 133rd General Assembly, Rep. Howse’s HB 11 to improve pre-natal and maternal health services was signed into law.
For more information and to see a schedule of virtual events for Black Maternal Health Week, follow @OhioBMHC on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.