Rep. Alma Adams tackles African American maternal health with new caucus

WASHINGTON (GRAY DC) -- Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) stood with colleagues in front of the Capitol Tuesday to launch the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

African American women are three to four times more at risk of a pregnancy-related death than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"Launching the caucus sends a message that we are very concerned about the disparity as it relates to maternal health and African American women. That African American women and giving birth, and being successful at giving birth, and having healthy children is an important issue for this congress and for our country," said Rep. Adams.

Adams said the caucus will raise awareness within Congress and nationally regarding maternal health of African American women, but the group will also try and pass related legislation.

And passing laws is what co-director of Black Mamas Matter Alliance Elizabeth Gay wants to see from the caucus.

"One of our great hopes is for there to be really strong legislation that would address the variety of issues that black mamas are facing," Gray said.

"Recognizing and working to eliminate obstetric violence, disrespect, neglect, abuse, mistreatment and ensuring that all black mamas have access to high quality care," she continued.

Rep. Adams said right now there are at least 53 members of Congress interested in the caucus.

During the launch, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) were among some of the lawmakers who attended. No Republicans were present during the press conference, but Adams said she is optimistic the caucus could get some Republican support.

"I'm hoping that my colleagues will have that kind of sensitivity and I believe they will," Adams said. "And it's our responsibility as a caucus to help with that sensitizing by making sure that we get the information out and that's what we're going to do."

In the United States, around 700 women die each year from childbirth or pregnancy complications, according to the CDC.