Haaland Introduces Resolution to Address Native Maternal Health Disparities

November 29, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – This week, Congresswoman Deb Haaland introduced a resolution to address the Native maternal health crisis. The Native Women’s Maternal Health Resolution seeks to shed light on the maternal health crisis among indigenous women in the United States while addressing critical needs to increase access to comprehensive and culturally competent family planning services and maternal health care services for indigenous women.  

“Every woman in this country deserves to be able to bring a child into the world with the support and care she needs, but indigenous women experience complications and even death at higher rates than other groups of women. That’s why we’re calling attention to the lack of funding and resources to help moms and babies get a healthy start,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

Specifically the Native Women’s Maternal Health Resolution:

  • Acknowledges the maternal health crisis that indigenous women disproportionately experience;
  • Recognizes the shortcomings of the federal government to uphold the trust responsibility provide Native Americans with adequate health care services;
  • Calls for urgent prioritization and federal funding changes to ensure indigenous women have access to comprehensive and culturally competent maternal health care and family planning services;
  • Urges policy prioritization of maternal health, prenatal care and comprehensive family planning services for Native women 
  • Identifies the disproportional IHS spending deficit for Native Americans of - $5,875 per patient compared to federal health care spending nationally

Full text of the resolution is available here.

Organizations throughout the country applauded the resolution introduction:

Center for Reproductive Rights, Jennifer Jacoby Altscher, Federal Policy Counsel

For far too long Indigenous Peoples have been relegated to the corners of the national conversation on the maternal health crisis. Congress must take action to address Indigenous Peoples’ devastatingly high maternal mortality rates and chronic barriers to high-quality, culturally competent care. We applaud Representative Haaland for introducing this resolution and her efforts to make sure Congress is informed of this crisis. The resolution is a critical step in the ongoing fight to ensure access to safe and respectful maternal health care for all people.”

National Indigenous Women's Resource Center

“At no time, is a woman’s safety more at risk than when pregnant. Research indicates that rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) increases during pregnancy. Native women continue to experience high rates of domestic violence and exceedingly high and disproportional rates of maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States. Access to comprehensive, high quality, and culturally competent maternal health care inclusive of early IPV screening and intervention is imperative to improve maternal outcomes for Native women. We stand in solidarity with Representative Haaland as she works to shed light on the failure of the federal government to honor its trust responsibility to provide adequate health care at IHS facilities, especially in relation to prenatal care and comprehensive family planning services and her call to prioritize immediate policy changes to ensure Native women have access to comprehensive, high quality, and culturally competent prenatal and maternal care.”

US Human Rights Network

“The US Human Rights Network welcomes the Native Women’s Maternal Health Day resolution; we celebrate an opportunity to raise the visibility of Indigenous women’s maternal health risks within the scope of known disparities in pregnancy-related complications for both native women and women of color in the United States.”

MomsRising, Monifa Bandele, Senior Vice President

“MomsRising wholeheartedly supports designating November 12 as Native Women’s Maternal Health Day. Too many Native women struggle to access quality, affordable health care, and the disparities that result are a national disgrace. Meaningful action to address these disparities, including the fact that American Indians are twice as likely as other women to die during childbirth, is long overdue. Solutions begin with building awareness, and a Native Women’s Maternal Health Day can help do that. MomsRising stands ready to promote Native Women’s Maternal Health Day and advocate vigorously for reforms that result in healthier Native moms and babies.”

Tribal Legal Development Clinic, UCLA School of Law

“This is a powerful first step in recognizing the needs of, but also the power of American Indian and Alaska Native women. Native women require access to community-driven, culturally responsive services. Acknowledgment is a meaningful first step.”

IllumiNative

“As an organization that is fighting against the invisibility of Native peoples, we are proud to support Representative Haaland’s resolution establishing November 12th as Native Women’s Maternal Health Day. For too long, the struggles of Native women have been ignored. We are proud to support efforts that illuminate the barriers to health for Native women face and look forward to finding solutions to the issues addressed in this resolution. We hope this is a first step towards reconciliation and increased support for Native women by Congress.”

Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington Burns, Founder

"Establishing a national Native Women’s Maternal Health Day is one small but critical step towards righting the inequities that result in Native women faring worse in pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts. It is time for us to collectively bring much-needed attention to this issue, and address the institutionalized discrimination and healthcare system failures that have produced worse outcomes for Indigenous women in the United States. All mothers deserve the same high-quality, compassionate, respectful maternity care.”

Tewa Women United

“Tewa Women United full heartedly supports this resolution that centers and honors our Indigenous women, their families and communities.”

National Indian Health Board (NIHB)

“American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women not only experience the highest rates of life-threatening maternal health complications nationwide, but arguably suffer more from the disease of anonymity. Lack of awareness of maternal health disparities in Indian Country continues to adversely impact access to necessary funding and health resources for comprehensive pre and postnatal care for all AI/AN women. The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) applauds Representative Haaland for championing this Resolution that highlights the Native women’s maternal health crisis.”

National Council of Urban Indian Health, Francys Crevier, Executive Director

The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) supports Congresswoman Haaland as she introduces the Native Women’s Maternal Health Day resolution. Since time immemorial culturally competent maternal health has brought forth generation after generation of thriving Native babies and sustained healthy Native mothers and this resolution recognizes the importance and need of good maternal care for both mother and baby” says Francys Crevier, Executive Director of NCUIH – which advocates on behalf of the 41 Urban Indian Organizations providing culturally competent health care and resources to the approximately 78% of AI/AN people who live in urban areas. The United States has a unique responsibility, agreed to long ago and reaffirmed many times by Congress, to provide health care to AI/AN people, wherever they reside.”