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Michigan observes Black Maternal Health Week

Twill Care
Creative Commons

Founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Maternal Health Week is recognized April 11-17 as a way to honor the prenatal through the experiences of Black mothers.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued a proclamation declaring April 11-17 as Black Maternal Health Week in Michigan to honor the prenatal through postpartum experiences of Black mothers.

“During Black Maternal Health Week, we affirm our commitment to ensuring that every Black woman in Michigan receives access to quality, affordable maternal and infant health care,” said Governor Whitmer. “The budget proposal I put forward earlier this year expands our Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program which connects moms to the support they need for healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and postpartum care. Let’s keep empowering every Michigander, no matter who they are or where they live, with the right resources for a safe, healthy, and fulfilling pregnancy.”

Annually, April 11-17 is recognized nationally as Black Maternal Health Week, founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, which amplifies the voices of Black Mamas and centers the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements.

Black women are 2.8 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable.

Michigan officials and community leaders say they are addressing the root causes of Black maternal morbidity and mortality through systemic change, social justice work, mental health, breastfeeding and doula care support, along with access to equitable health services and programs.

“Every parent deserves quality, accessible healthcare that helps them focus on what matters: welcoming their precious baby into the world,” said Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist II. “Many Black women in the United States experience barriers to accessing quality pre- and postnatal care. Here in Michigan, we have been working diligently to eliminate that disparity by expanding Medicaid coverage for up to a year post-partum and allocating funds to implement recommendations from the Racial Disparities Task Force that will improve access to health services. We’ve gotten a lot done to support Michigan mothers in every community and we will keep working to make Michigan the best place to raise and grow a family.”

“The inequities between Black mothers and other mothers have intensified,” said state Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). “We must uplift that our bodies still belong to us especially at this pivotal time when reproductive justice, rights, and freedom are under assault. We must recognize the intersections of economic justice and reproductive justice policies in order to improve Black maternal health and restore Black bodily autonomy and joy. Black women deserve the fundamental human right of reproductive justice now. While we highlight these issues and possible policy solutions during Black Maternal Health Week, I will continue working to uplift the rights, justice, and freedom for Black mothers all year. Healthcare is a human right.”

“Maternal mortality is a global problem, and it’s a problem we can and must continue to tackle. One in 4 pregnancy-related deaths is preventable, and Black women have the highest mortality in birthing. The policy and the practice of having babies in Michigan must be safe for all mothers, centering around both prenatal and postnatal support. We can and must lessen the systemic threats to maternal and infant care and increase the numbers of healthy birthing outcomes for all mothers and their babies,” said state Representative Stephanie A. Young, (D-Detroit), chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee.

In the 2020 State of the State address, Governor Whitmer proposed the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies initiative, which aims to reduce the disproportionate racial impacts of maternal and infant mortality. The governor has since signed multiple budgets funding the program to ensure moms have the support they need for healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and postpartum care.

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