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Lawmakers Form Group To Lower Black Maternal Mortality Rates

Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)
Paul Vernon
Associated Press
Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron)

Tuesday marks the first-ever meeting of the Ohio Black Maternal Health Caucus.

In Ohio, African American women are more likely to die in childbirth than white women. The Black Maternal Health Caucus aims to identify and address the factors that create that disparity.

"There’s something happening to women long before they’re getting pregnant that is causing changes in their body, usually due to social determinates lack of housing, lack of transportation, chronic stress due to racism and other chronic issues like that." says House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron).

Sykes stresses the importance of getting these issues in front of other lawmakers, especially because the majority of the legislature is comprised of men. 

"What we do hope that this Black Maternal Health Caucus will do is bring light to and discuss issues that some folks have never had any exposure to," she says. 

The group was announced the same day Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law the "heartbeat" abortion bill, which some fear will distract from efforts to lower maternal and infant mortality rates.

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

Paige Pfleger is a reporter for WOSU, Central Ohio's NPR station. Before joining the staff of WOSU, Paige worked in the newsrooms of NPR, Vox, Michigan Radio, WHYY and The Tennessean. She spent three years in Philadelphia covering health, science, and gender, and her work has appeared nationally in The Washington Post, Marketplace, Atlas Obscura and more.