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Rep. Alma Adams Holds Forum on Black Maternal Health

April 14, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
Rep. Alma Adams Holds Forum on Black Maternal Health
Rep. Adams courtesy of Alma Adams flickr

WASHINGTON — Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., hosted a forum on Wednesday on Black maternal health to highlight the efforts being made to address reproductive issues in the U.S. for women of color. The forum aligns with Black Maternal Health Week which is observed from April 11-17.

“Our maternal mortality statistics are worse than any developed or high-income country … the rates are three to four times as high for Black women,” said Pamela Cobb, one of the panelists at the forum, who works in women’s health care in North Carolina. 

So, what is the U.S. doing wrong? According to panelists during the event, there isn’t just one answer, but the time has come to look at all the different factors to overcome the maternal health crisis.

According to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020, 861 women were identified as having died of maternal causes, compared with 754 in 2019.


The Black Maternal Health Forum hosted by Adams, who also serves as chairwoman of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, opened with a video testimony about a Black woman who died shortly after childbirth. 

“Women all over this country deserve better,” said the husband of Kira Johnson, in the video testimony. 

Kira Johnson, was a healthy 39-year-old Black woman, who gave birth in April 2016 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.


According to her husband, Johnson failed to receive a timely CT scan following her birth, and died from internal hemorrhaging many hours later. 

“She had three and half liters of blood in her abdomen,” said Kira’s husband.

Last year, Adams, along with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., introduced the Black Maternal Health Omnibus Act of 2021, which is a package of 12 bills to address all aspects of the maternal mortality crisis, with emphasis on Black mothers, and includes $12 million a year for five years to aid in preventing mothers’ deaths.

Within those 12 bills is the Kira Johnson Act, which provides critical funding to community-based organizations and other programs to address maternal health conditions, provide assessments of youth disorders, and address the social determinants of maternal health — such as bias and racism training and research, and compliance programs which promote accountability in maternal care settings. 

Other ideas of how to improve maternal and infant health outcomes for Black women were explored in the forum, including the role of affordable doulas, examining ways of transforming the idea of pregnancy as a medical problem into something more holistic, and adopting new care models to better take care of women of color. 


Panelists also recommended the idea of better preparing women for labor and allowing women to establish better delineation of what they want from their physician in that interaction and what they want in the postpartum period.

Alexa can be reached at [email protected] 

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