Congresswomen host roundtable discussion on black maternal health

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- One of the topics of discussion on the floor of Congress is healthcare. Some area leaders are doing their best to show people the shocking statistics surrounding maternal health, specifically with African American moms.

"We are joining forces today to prioritize maternal health, and end this disparity and inequity," Congresswoman Lauren Underwood said.

First hand perspective, that's what local medical personnel and Winnebago county health representatives gave congresswomen Cheri Bustos and Lauren Underwood at a discussion at SwedishAmerican hospital. The goal is to show the need for improvement in the care of African American mothers.

"We've got a third who die while their pregnant, a third immediately after they deliver, and another third six weeks to a year after in this higher mortality rate in African Americans than among Caucasian mothers," Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said.

The message experts want people to know is every person is different. Bias, economic and social conditions are just a few of the issues that surround the care of these moms.

"We have to recognize that everyone is not walking in with equal circumstances and that the community doesn't receive and respond to them equally," Underwood said.

Underwood says in Illinois, African American moms are six times more likely to die as a result of childbirth. Miranda Tingle is eight months pregnant and heavily invested in this topic, she has seen some of the disparities first hand.

"The lack of diversity is what speaks to me the most, because I think that it's important for us women as African American women to be able to walk into an office and see someone who looks like them," Tingle said.

Bustos and Underwood plan on returning to Washington D.C. sometime within the next week. They will roll out nine or ten bills in the coming month that aim to fill in some of the gaps surrounding maternal health services.