WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a resolution recognizing January 23 as Maternal Health Awareness Day. New Jersey was the first state to recognize January 23 as Maternal Health Awareness Day in 2018 through the work of the Tara Hansen Foundation, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and other vital organizations that work to help spread awareness and stop maternal mortality. Since that time, state, advocacy and community-based organizations, and others have used this date to raise awareness about maternal health, educate health care providers about maternal deaths, and encourage women, families and providers to recognize and discuss potential signs of an emergency. The United States is the only developed nation to have experienced an increase in maternal mortality in recent decades, with the pregnancy-related mortality ratio doubling between 1987 and 2016.
“Maternal mortality in the United States is a public health crisis that demands urgent action,” said Sen. Booker. “The fact that these negative outcomes are disproportionately concentrated among Indigenous and Black women—who are two and three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes—reminds us that maternal health is a matter of justice. We have a responsibility to address this growing public health crisis & racial bias in our health care system.”
“Maternal mortality must be an issue that’s addressed with urgency,” said Sen. Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy. “I’m proud to join in this effort with Senator Booker to ensure our nation prioritizes maternal health. I’ll continue advocating for greater funding to ensure women of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds have access to affordable, quality health care that they need during and after pregnancy.”
Booker and Menendez’s resolution notes that more than 60 percent of maternal deaths are preventable and recognizes community-based maternal health models that have been proven to improve the health of mothers throughout the country. Because one-third of maternal mortality cases occur one week to one year postpartum, expanding access to health care after delivery is an important step to saving the lives of new mothers.
Full text of the resolution can be found here.