A bill that aims to help veterans who are also mothers was signed into law this week.
The Protecting Moms Who Served Act (H.R. 958), introduced by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and championed by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to invest in quality maternal care for mothers across the country.
President Joe Biden signed the bill into law Wednesday.
Underwood said she wanted to create a bill that would support all women veterans who have faced risks while pregnant or during their postpartum stage.
“Women are the fastest growing veteran population,” she said “And right now, there are over half a million veterans under 40. And because of their service, many of these women veterans are at an increased risk for maternal mortality. And they are dying from a pregnancy-related complication or severe morbidity. With this legislation that gives the VA additional tools, you make sure they are offering the world-class care that our veteran moms have earned.”
The act is one of 12 bills in a legislative package that will expand the maternal care workforce and support community-based organizations working toward advancing birth equity, including supporting doulas and midwives offering guidance and their services at a low cost.
“In the U.S., we know that Black women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts,” she said. “So, in order to end the mortality crisis, we have to have a comprehensive approach. And that’s the ‘Momnibus’ bill (H.R. 959).”
The National Institutes of Health found that Black women are 3.5 times more likely than white women to die from a maternity-related death, per the organization's findings from death certificates related to maternal deaths from 2016 and 2017.
“There is a lot of room to clean up these data sources by standardizing this reporting in every state and making sure we have an accurate grasp of the scope of this problem,” Underwood said. “And with the ‘Momnibus’ bill, we have [new data].
The full legislative package passed the House of Representatives, and now awaits approval from the Senate before heading to the president.