Luján, Murkowski Introduce Legislation to Combat Maternal and Infant Mortality Crisis

Bipartisan Legislation Would Increase Number, Strengthen Diversity of Trained Midwives

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today introduced the Midwives for Midwives for Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services (MOMS) Act to address the maternal and infant mortality crisis by increasing the number of trained midwives in the United States. The bipartisan legislation would increase funding for midwifery education, and increase diversity in the maternity care workforce by prioritizing students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, maternal and infant mortality is higher for Black, Native American, and Hispanic communities than their white counterparts. Integrations of midwifery into maternal health care has been linked to healthy births for moms and babies.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House by U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.).

“New Mexicans have long trusted midwives to safely deliver their children. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation to increase the number of midwives across New Mexico and strengthen diversity of the maternity care workforce. Supporting midwifery education is one solution to address health disparities facing Black, Native American, and Hispanic communities, and to tackle to the maternal and infant mortality crisis,” said Senator Luján. “Midwives are an essential part of our state’s health care system, and I look forward to moving this legislation forward.”

“Adequate and proper maternal care can make all the difference to having a healthy pregnancy. Across the nation, hospital closures, budget cuts, and a shortage of maternity care providers are compounding the challenges of providing quality maternal care in rural and remote communities. In Alaska, these challenges result in significant health disparities, particularly among Alaska Native communities, and can lead to worse health outcomes for mothers and their babies,” said Senator Murkowski. “Addressing the unique challenges of providing care in rural communities requires a multi-faceted approach. By creating avenues to increase the number of trained midwives in America, we have an opportunity to strengthen maternal care and bolster the overall health professional workforce in Alaska and across the U.S.”

“There is growing recognition that expanding the midwifery workforce is a powerful, effective action we can take to improve the health and save the lives of childbearing people in our country,” said Mary Lawlor, CPM and Executive Director of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives. “Given the inequities and disparities experienced by Black and Indigenous birthing people and infants, the true imperative is to grow the numbers of Black and Indigenous midwives and other midwives of color. NACPM is deeply grateful to Senator Luján and Senator Murkowski for their leadership on the Midwives for MOMS Act, legislation that will grow and diversify the midwifery workforce in the U.S. for the benefit of all families. We look forward to working together to advance this legislation.”

“The American College of Nurse-Midwives applauds members of Congress for recognizing the critical role that midwives can play in providing high-quality maternal health care,” said ACNM President Cathy Collins Fulea, DNP, CNM, FACNM. “Targeting federal grant funding for accredited midwifery education programs is crucial to growing and improving racial and ethnic representation within our nation’s maternity care workforce. The Midwives for MOMS Act takes important steps to alleviate significant pressures U.S. communities and health systems are experiencing due to the shortage of trained maternal health care providers, particularly in high need rural and urban areas. By improving access to full scope and culturally-appropriate midwifery care provided by CNMs and CMs, we will be able to better address the considerable disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes found in far too many of our communities.”

A summary of the legislation is available HERE. Full text of the legislation is available HERE.



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