Press Release

Senator Gillibrand Stands With Syracuse Leaders Calling For Nearly $180 Million To Address Nation’s Maternal Mortality And Maternal Mental Health Crisis

Sep 8, 2023

Maternal Mortality Rate In Onondaga County Is Over 2x The New York State Average;

Black Non-Hispanic Women in the United States Are Up To 3 Times As Likely To Die From Pregnancy-Related Complications

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood at Syracuse Community Health calling for legislation and nearly $180 million in federal funding to address the nation’s maternal mortality and maternal mental health crisis. The United States continues to have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world, driven in large part by the high mortality rates among women of color. Gillibrand’s approach would support mothers at every step of their maternal health care journey and help address racial disparities in maternal health by awarding grants to grow and diversify the maternal health workforce and working to eliminate racial bias in maternal care. Senator Gillibrand was joined by President & CEO of Syracuse Community Health Mark Hall, Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, State Senator John Mannion, Co-Founder of the Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center and Co-Director of Village Birth International Asteir Bey, Doula & Founder of Half Hood Half Holistic Rachel Johnson, Assistant Professor of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at SUNY Upstate Dr. Simone Seward, and Onondaga Legislators Mary Kuhn, William Kinne, Linda Ervin, Peggy Chase, Chris Ryan, and Charles Garland.

“More people in the United States die from pregnancy-related complications than in any of our peer countries – this is outrageous and downright shameful. We must do more to support and listen to women and pregnant people at every step of their maternal health journey,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m fighting to include nearly $180 million in the end-of-year spending bill to help implement evidence-based health care standards for all women, no matter their race or ethnicity. I’m also pushing to pass the Moms Matter Act to provide critical mental health and substance use disorder support to pregnant people and moms. I will never stop fighting to ensure every mother is heard and gets high-quality health care — no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or zip code.”  

“I would like to thank Senator Gillibrand for coming to Syracuse Community Health’s new facility which will be a cornerstone to providing high-quality care to this community. By investing in programs to support moms with maternal mental health conditions and providing critical funding to grow and diversity the health care workforce, her Mom’s Matter Act will be vital to the fight against maternal mortality,” said Mark Hall, President & CEO of Syracuse Community Health.

“Mortality rates among new and expectant mothers in the United States continues to be among the highest among developed nations. The fact that there is such sharp disparities by race indicates that more can be done to help mothers in need. As the representative for a district that has one of the highest rates of poverty among people of color in the country, this trend is especially disturbing. I fully support Senator Gillibrand’s efforts at the federal level and will look to advocate for similar proposals on the state level,” said Assemblymember Pam Hunter.

“Senator Gillibrand is a champion for women and women’s health and I strongly support her Moms Matter Act legislation. I am proud to be a partner in her efforts to improve maternal health outcomes for all women. I’ve worked to pass legislation that protects women’s health – including reproductive health – and directly addresses the maternal health crisis in New York including stronger protections for pregnant women, increased funding for maternal health programs, and more education and awareness about maternal health issues,” said Senator John W. Mannion.

“This legislation will make investments in programs, like Sankofa, who serve moms with maternal mental health conditions and substance use disorders. It also provides the critical funding we need to grow and diversify our maternal health workforce,” said Asteir Bey, Co-Founder of the Sankofa Reproductive Health and Healing Center and Co-Director of Village Birth International.

“This act in particular highlights the intersection of maternal health and mental health disparities and I think it is important to acknowledge the historical and contextual factors that influence both because in order to tackle maternal and mental health we need to understand the disparities in maternal and mental health,” said Rachel Johnson, Doula & Founder of Half Hood Half Holistic.

Senator Gillibrand’s Moms Matter Act would establish two grant programs to support moms with maternal mental health conditions or substance use disorders by investing in community-based programs that provide mental and behavioral health treatments. Additionally, the bill would provide funding for programs to grow and diversify the maternal mental and behavioral health care workforce in an effort to ensure quality, culturally competent health care. 

For more information on the bill, please click here.

Ahead of final negotiations for the FY24 appropriations package, Senator Gillibrand is calling on Senate Appropriations Committee leaders to include $164 million for the Safe Motherhood and Infant Health Program, which will boost the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) ability to provide assistance to state Maternal Mortality Review Committees in their data collection efforts.

Senator Gillibrand is also pushing for $15 million in federal funding for the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), a program that works with states and hospital systems to implement toolkits to improve maternal outcomes. AIM works on a range of maternal safety topics, including obstetric hemorrhage, severe hypertension in pregnancy, maternal mental health, obstetric care for women with opioid use disorder, and education on peripartum racial and ethnic disparities.

For the full letter, please click here.

Senator Gillibrand is a relentless champion for the health and rights of mothers and their families. Gillibrand fought for and successfully established a National Maternal Mental Health Hotline, which provides free, confidential, 24/7 support to pregnant and postpartum women facing mental health challenges. Counselors are available by text and phone in English and Spanish and have access to interpreter services that can support 60 other languages.

The hotline can be reached at 1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-HELP4MOMS). More information is available here.  

Gillibrand also supports the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which includes her Moms Matter Act. She leads the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act, which would develop standardized maternal safety best practices to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity and provide hospitals with the resources to help prevent maternal death and complications before, during, and after childbirth. Gillibrand also secured $17 million in maternal health care funding in the bipartisan FY2021 appropriations package and an additional $42 million in the FY2023 funding package. Gillibrand has also taken action to address Black maternal mortality and eliminate racial bias in maternal care by advocating for federal funding for evidence-based training programs to reduce implicit bias in maternal health care delivery.