Congressman Cohen Co-Sponsors Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act

August 11, 2020
Press Release
Addressing national and Memphis infant and maternal mortality issues

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, today joined Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and several other colleagues in introducing the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act.

Congressman Cohen has long been a leader in addressing the issue of high infant and maternal mortality, especially in Memphis, and has worked tirelessly to find solutions to these devastating problems that disproportionately affect Black Americans.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

“High infant and maternal mortality, especially because of its disproportionate impact on communities of color, is a national disgrace. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic is making the dangerous gaps in the safety net for pregnant women and infant children more acute. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Maternal Health Pandemic Response Act to address it.”

The bill would:

  • Require the CDC to coordinate, collect, and publicly post data related to COVID-19 and pregnancy disaggregated by race, ethnicity and state. The bill also authorizes funding for CDC’s pregnancy surveillance programs and the National Institutes of Health’s research programs.
  • Direct the NIH to ensure that at least one COVID-19 vaccine is developed and made available for use in pregnancy and lactation. It adds reporting and data collection requirements for COVID-19 therapeutic and vaccine developers regarding their product’s use in pregnancy.
  • Direct the CDC to undertake a robust public health education effort aimed at informing pregnant people, their employers and their providers about the latest evidence-based health information. It also requires the Secretary of Labor to issue an emergency temporary standard for pregnant workers and all workers.
  • Define anti-racist, culturally congruent, and respectful maternity care and seeks to improve the provision of this type of care. It creates a Department of Health and Human Services Task Force on Birthing Experience and Safe, Respectful Maternity Care to develop federal recommendations to ensure the provision of quality, nondiscriminatory maternity care, the promotion of positive birthing experience, and the improvement of maternal health outcomes during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Congressman Cohen introduced the Nationally Enhancing the Wellbeing of Babies through Outreach and Research Now (NEWBORN) Act to help address America’s unacceptably high infant mortality rate with concrete measures at the beginning of the current Congress. See his testimony regarding the bill before the Energy and Commerce Committee last year here.