Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Rep. Sewell Introduces Maternal Vaccination Act to Protect the Health and Safety of Moms and Babies

Feb 8, 2021
Press Release
Rep. Sewell Introduces Maternal Vaccination Act to Protect the Health and Safety of Moms and Babies

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, introduced the Maternal Vaccination Act, which will provide funding to increase maternal vaccination rates and reduce vaccination disparities. The bill joins a larger historic legislative “Momnibus” package to address the United States’ urgent maternal health crisis.

“The reality is that in this nation of so much wealth and prosperity, there is no reason that African American women should be dying at rates three times that of white women in pregnancy and childbirth,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the maternal mortality crisis affecting Black women, especially in Alabama, which ranks third highest in the nation in maternal death rates. I remain committed to doing everything in my power to ensure every Black woman has equal access to maternal healthcare, and the Maternal Vaccination Act will help get this done!”

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 will build on existing maternal health legislation, like policies to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage, with 12 bills to comprehensively address every dimension of America’s maternal health crisis. 

The United States has the highest pregnancy-related death rate in the developed world. The maternal mortality rate is significantly higher among Black women, who are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. Other birthing people of color, including Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander women, also suffer from disproportionate rates of adverse maternal health outcomes.

The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020 includes several provisions that will: 

  • Make critical investments in social determinants of health that influence maternal health outcomes, like housing, transportation, and nutrition. 

  • Provide funding to community-based organizations that are working to improve maternal health outcomes and promote equity.

  • Comprehensively study the unique maternal health risks facing pregnant veterans and support VA maternity care coordination. 

  • Grow and diversify the perinatal workforce to ensure every mom in America receives maternity care and support from people they can trust.

  • Improve data collection processes and quality measures to better understand the causes of the maternal health crisis in the United States and inform solutions to address it.

  • Invest in programs to expand access to treatments and support for maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

  • Improve maternal health care and support for incarcerated moms.

  • Invest in digital tools like telehealth to improve maternal health outcomes in underserved areas.

  • Promote innovative payment models to incentivize high-quality maternity care and continuity of health insurance coverage from pregnancy through labor and delivery and up to 1 year postpartum.

  • Strengthen programs to improve maternal health during COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.

  • Invest in community-based initiatives to reduce levels of and exposure to climate change-related risks for moms and babies.

A section-by-section summary of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act can be found here.