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Black Maternal Health Week leads with research and healing

The second annual national Black Maternal Health Week concludes on April 17 having made deep and wide shifts for the lives of Black women and families. The theme of #BMHW19 is “Decolonizing Research to Develop Meaningful Policy Meaningful Policy for Black Maternal Health,” which speaks to BMMA’s insistence on raising awareness about this crisis and the critical need for approaches that are both specific to and from the experiences, expertise and needs of Black families. This work has spurred legislators to introduce over 80 bills in this session alone to address the crisis. Still, a major political achievement of this #BMHW19 was the formation of the Black Maternal Health Caucus launched by Congresspeople Lauren Underwood and Alma Adams.

Black women leaders across the country led events centering their leadership and healing. Maternal and reproductive health scholar Dr. Monica McLemore engaged in conversation with authors of Battling Over Birth Dr. Chinyere Oparah and doula Talita Oseguera to articulate key aspects of creating ethical, meaningful research about Black Maternal Health. Dr. McLemore also published To Prevent Women from Dying in Childbirth, First Stop Blaming Them in Scientific American, discussing that racism, rather than racial category, is the major factor in this crisis.

As a Black mother, maternal and child health advocate and nurse-midwife in Washington D.C.- a hotspot for the Black maternal health crisis - I am a daily witness and caretaker to women affected by this climate. I often worry about psychological toll on Black women that heart-wrenching attention has when it is without calls for action or fails to amplify researched solutions like culturally congruent healthcare, midwifery, group prenatal care and continuous labor support. As midwife Jennie Joseph writes, “mothers can suffer and experience the effects of being in a living, breathing, materno-toxic zone all of their own, based on other people’s response or reaction to their race, socio-economic status, citizenship or by being “othered” while pregnant, delivering their baby or in the postpartum year, regardless of location.” In various cities, mothers, birthworkers, healthcare providers and activists organized events including healing circles, discussions, film screenings, community walks, and dance classes as protective and productive spaces for Black women to converse, commune and practice self-care.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of articles published during and about Black Maternal Health Week 2019. Followers can search the official hashtags #BMHW19 #BlackMaternalHealth Week and follow Black Mamas Matter Alliance on social media platforms.

To Prevent Women from Dying in Childbirth, First Stop Blaming Them,  Monica McLemore

Black Maternal Health: When the Village Itself May Be Too Toxic, Jennie Joseph

Black Maternal Health Week Shines Spotlight on Black-Led Solutions, Miriam Zoila Pérez

Meet the Women Fighting to Save Black Mothers, Char Adams

Now That We Know There’s a Maternal Mortality Crisis, How Can We Help Fix It?, Sunshine Muse

Black Maternal Health Week: Meet women who are working to improve maternal mortality rates, Gabrielle Frank

Black maternal health week event in Huntsville aims to bring awareness to maternal health crisis, WHNT News

Black Maternal Health Week 2019: Celebrate, Decolonize and Restore, Vacheria Tutson

#GoodNews This Week: Moving the Needle on Taxes & Medicaid!

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CELEBRATING BLACK MATERNAL HEALTH WEEK! Anayah Sangodele-Ayoka writes about "the second annual national Black Maternal Health Week," which "concludes on April 17 having made deep and wide shifts for the lives of Black women and families. The theme of #BMHW19 is “Decolonizing Research to Develop Meaningful Policy Meaningful Policy for Black Maternal Health.” Read more here: https://www.momsrising.org/blog/black-maternal-health-week-leads-with-research-and-healing 

 

OUR VOICES: Felicia Burnett and our healthcare team has pulled together another powerful book of stories written by MomsRising supporters like you, and delivered to lawmakers. Check out the book "Medicaid Helps Families Weather The Storm" at Felicia's post:

 

OUR IMPACT! "Because of all the letters, phone calls, and stories you have shared, leaders in the U.S. Senate introduced a bill last week that will actually put much needed money in the pockets of working families, rather than giving trillions of dollars in tax cuts away to billionaires and Wall Street." Elyssa Koidin Schmier shares the lowdown on what our million-strong movement has accomplished in protecting family economic security -- and what more we can do together! Check it out: https://www.momsrising.org/blog/i-want-to-thank-you-this-tax-day

Medicaid Helps Families Weather the Storm (Storybook)

Medicaid helps families weather the storm during times of need—whether it be during a health care crisis or a time of financial hardship.

But in North Carolina, lawmakers have yet to make this critical and often life-saving program available to about half a million low-income uninsured adults. That needs to change—now. North Carolina moms and families need and deserve health coverage. Expanding Medicaid would save lives and improve the health of our communities.

MomsRising and members of the Health Action NC coalition created this powerful storybook to deliver to lawmakers to tell them to close the health care coverage gap in North Carolina.

Stories like Christina, a MomRising member in McLeansville who wrote, “My Mother is uninsured. She is an amazing grandmother and would give the coat off her back to help another. For the past couple of years she has not been able to work due to medical issues and doesn't have medical insurance coverage.”

Please read and share the stories in this book with lawmakers, and also with your friends and family in North Carolina. It will show them that we are all stronger and healthier when everyone is insured and cared for.

 

Washington Legislature: The Working Families Tax Credit is a gender and racial justice issue!

MomsRising, together with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, organized the following sign-on letter for gender justice organizations in support of the Working Families Tax Credit. You can take action in support of the Working Families Tax Credit by sending your state lawmakers a quick note of support here. 

Honorable Members of the Washington State Legislature:

We, the undersigned, write to urge you to champion the Working Families Tax Credit in the final 2019-21 budget package. As organizations advocating for gender and racial justice across Washington State, we stand in strong support of this critical economic security policy.

The Working Families Tax Credit, modeled after the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), would provide a new tax credit for low- and moderate-income working families in Washington. As proposed, the program would increase workers’ EITC by 20% and be administered by the Employment Security Department. This proposed tax credit is a bold and important step to make the Washington State tax code, the worst in the nation, more fair for working families struggling to make ends meet across our state

Funding the Working Families Tax Credit is a matter of gender and racial justice. As a result of our history of systemic racism and sexism, people of color, women, and gender nonconforming people often have to work harder to make ends meet in low-wage jobs. As a result, these workers are the most likely to face precarious economic situations. At a time when there is such great prosperity in our state, no Washingtonian, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, should struggle to provide the basic necessities of a decent life to their family. By increasing tax fairness for all low-income Washingtonians, the Working Families Tax Credit helps to close the gaps in economic security and opportunity that hit people of color, women, and gender nonconforming people the hardest. The Washington State Legislature has the opportunity to increase the racial and gender justice impacts of this policy by expanding eligibility for the Working Families Tax Credit to include low-income family caregivers, immigrants, childless young adults, and college students.

In addition, this policy increases public safety by supporting women and other survivors of domestic and sexual violence and fighting the conditions that enable abuse. One of the main reasons people stay with or return to an abusive partner is that they lack the money to support themselves or their children. Research shows that economic insecurity increases the risk of violence for women and families, and that poverty-reduction policies like tax credits work to decrease vulnerability. Funding the Working Families Tax Credit would increase survivor safety and help reduce the conditions that enable violence in our state.

The Working Families Tax Credit will lift women, gender nonconforming people, people of color, and low-income families across Washington. We urge you to stand with organizations advocating for gender and racial justice across our state and pledge to fight for a fully-funded Working Families Tax Credit in the 2019 legislative session. 

Signed,

Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse (Pullman)

Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence (Seattle)

Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County

Forks Abuse Program

InterIm CDA (Seattle)

Legal Voice

LifeWire (Bellevue)

MomsRising

Multi-Communities (Seattle)

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington

New Beginnings (Seattle)

Our Sisters' House (Tacoma)

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest & Hawaii

Raiz of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho

SAFE San Juans (Eastsound)

SEIU 775

Somali Family Task Force (Seattle)

The Human Response Network (Chehalis)

UFCW 21

Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Washington Work and Family Coalition

YWCA Pierce County

YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish

YWCA Yakima

QUICK SIGNATURE: WA Legislators need to hear from YOU!

It's coming down to the wire for the Working Families Tax Credit and the Washington State Legislature needs to hear from you. With just two weeks left, time is running out to keep the Working Families Tax Credit part of the conversation in budget negotiations. 

Click here to send a quick email to elected leadership and budget negotiators and urge them to stand strong on the Working Families Tax Credit through budget negotiations!

Here's the deal: The Working Families Tax Credit would be a meaningful step forward in providing tax relief for low- and moderate-income families in our state who are struggling to make ends meet. In Washington State, we have very high sales and property taxes as well as no income or capital gains tax. That means that low and middle-income families pay far more of their income in taxes than wealthy families in our state.

It’s time to turn our upside-down tax code right-side up. The Working Families Tax Credit is a strong first step to providing tax relief for struggling families in Washington! The more of us who take action, the more powerful our message will be.

The Working Families Tax Credit, building off the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, is good for moms, good for families, and good for our economy. It is pro-work, pro-family, and one of the strongest tools we have in combating poverty.

Study after study has shown how state and federal earned income tax credits boost families and local economies. Researchers have found links between the EITC and improvements in infant and maternal health, better school performance of elementary and middle-school students whose families receive larger refundable credits, and greater college enrollment among students whose parents received the EITC.

We can win this if we work together to amplify support for the Working Families Tax Credit! Click here to send House and Senate leadership as well as budget negotiators a quick message and remind them how important the Working Families Tax Credit will be to working families.

Our voices are powerful. Thank you for coming together to support parent-powered change and for all that you do!

I want to thank you this Tax Day!

Today is Tax Day! Feeling less than inspired by this? That’s because the billionaires and big corporations, not people like you and me, are reaping the benefits of the Trump Tax Scam. That’s why we need to use the media moment of Tax Day to send more letters to the editor this week in your local papers talking about the Trump tax scam and the need for real tax policies that support families.

Here’s the link to write a quick letter - we make it easy!

I also wanted to share a quick update on how our voices are impacting tax policy!

Because of all the letters, phone calls, and stories you have shared, leaders in the U.S. Senate introduced a bill last week that will actually put much needed money in the pockets of working families, rather than giving trillions of dollars in tax cuts away to billionaires and Wall Street. The Working Families Tax Relief Act was introduced by Senators Brown (OH), Bennet (CO), Durbin (IL), and Wyden (OR) and MomsRising was there front and center to celebrate this groundbreaking bill that makes improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit! [1] Our super mom, Julie, came all the way from Arizona to tell her story about how the Working Families Tax Relief Act will greatly help her family, especially her 1 year-old son Adam.

After the press conference, we delivered your letters and stories to the full Senate, and soon after we learned that every single Democrat has signed on to co-sponsor the bill except one. This is huge! Our elected leaders are starting to understand that these are the types of tax policies working families need, not the Trump Tax Scam. And this is because of YOU!

The Working Families Tax Relief Act would boost the incomes of an estimated 46 million households, benefiting more than 112 million people and lifting 28 million people above or closer to the poverty line, including 11 million children. [2] Here is what is in the bill:

  • Expanding the EITC for families with children by roughly 25%, raising the maximum EITC for a family with two children to $7,290.
  • Delivering a meaningful EITC for the first time to working people who aren’t raising children in their home — the sole group that the federal tax code now taxes into, or deeper into, poverty.
  • Making the CTC fully refundable so that children in all low- and moderate-income households can benefit from it.
  • Creating a new, fully refundable Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) for children under age 6. Research shows that this is a period of great importance and vulnerability in children’s lives, and that more adequate family income in these years can improve poor children’s opportunities. This would increase the CTC that these families receive to $3,000 per child under 6.

Now we need to get the word out about this important piece of legislation!

We want to submit more letters to the editor, and we were hoping you could help. Can you submit a letter to the editor calling for the repeal of the Trump Tax Scam and passage of improvements to the EITC and Child Tax Credit? (We make it super easy for you with sample language and our cool tool!)

Today we are celebrating you and all the hard work you have put in to make sure our country has tax policies that boost our families and our economy.

Thank you!

P.S. I wanted to share this excellent op-ed in the Washington Post that talks about why the Working Families Tax Relief Act is so important. 

P.P.S. If you want to watch Julie in action up on Capitol Hill, you can watch the press conference here.

MoMMA’s Voices offers opportunities to drive real change in maternal health

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MomsRising is pleased to announce our support for MoMMA’s Voices (Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Advocates), a national coalition of patient organizations and individuals with firsthand experience of maternal complications in pregnancy and the postpartum period, and their supporters.

With the wave of media and public attention on the growing and unacceptable rates of maternal mortality and severe morbidity in the United States, this coalition answers the need for a strong consumer voice to advocate, amplify, and illustrate these issues. 

MomsRising encourages our members to visit www.mommasvoices.org/individual to share your stories, join the training, and use your voices to be champions for changes. If you have already shared your story with MomsRising or with another source, you can simply copy the link to your story into the story section after completing the demographic section of your submission.

Additionally, MoMMA’s Voices will be attending Mom Congress from May 5 - 7 in Washington DC. Those who are interested in learning more specifically about legislation advocacy can join this event with a special discount by using MOMMASVOICES while registering at www.Mom-Congress.com.

Mom Congress is a three-day event and includes: 

  •  an opening night with the DC Office of Women's Health, state meet-and-greets, and live entertainment;
  • a day of training, including a Congressional mothers’ panel, the New Jersey First Lady, legislative visit prep, and training on how to advocate when you return home; and
  • the final day on Capitol Hill, with legislative visits including a maternity care briefing and a closing cocktail awards reception honoring several members of Congress and an advocate of the year.

The event also includes several “MOMents” including a mindfulness meditation, an optional self-care workshop, and optional morning wellness session.

The coalition is led by an executive steering committee that includes inaugural members Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE) Foundation, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Every Mother Counts, National Accreta Foundation, Preeclampsia Foundation, 2020Mom, The Shades of Blue Project, and others still to be confirmed.

The coalition’s overarching goal is to provide a home and platform for the patient voice to actively engage in efforts to make childbirth safer in our nation. Issues like patient-provider communications, racial disparities, quality of health care delivery, and patient information cut across all medical conditions and heavily contribute to preventable maternal deaths and illness. Most importantly, the coalition will provide training and tools to equip advocates to become effective champions for change.

For more information about MoMMA’s Voices, please contact Coalition Program Manager Nicole Purnell at Nicole.Purnell@preeclampsia.org.

Can you write a letter to speak out against the Trump Tax Scam?

The only people who are happy right now during tax season are the corporations and the top 1%, who received an average tax cut of $51,000 last year alone, who are getting a windfall from the Trump Tax Plan

Tax Day is this coming Monday (April 15th) and we have one major message that we want to shout from the roof tops: The Trump Tax Scam is AWFUL and should be repealed!

***TAKE ACTION NOW! Send a letter to your local newspaper speaking out against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (aka Trump Tax Scam)! (Don’t worry—we make it super easy for you with our cool letter to the editor tool that will walk you through all the steps). 

The Trump Tax Scam is still wildly unpopular, especially among women—only 30% of women in the U.S. approve of the law. And a majority of people say the law hasn’t improved their family's financial situation, like the Republicans promised when they passed the law on a partisan basis in December 2017. Instead, what most voters want is to make corporations and millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share! In fact, our partners at Tax March and Americans for Tax Fairness just released a poll that found that three out of four likely 2020 voters support raising taxes on the rich. This strong support extends across party lines, with 90% of Democrats, 70% of independents, and 60% of Republicans in favor of higher taxes for the rich

We’ve been hearing from moms, dads, and angry people across the country who were expecting a tax return and instead owing thousands of dollars in taxes. Even if you are one of the families seeing a small increase in your tax refund, it’s temporary crumbs compared to the trillions (yes TRILLIONS) of dollars in permanent tax cuts the Trump-GOP Tax Scam has given away to mega-corporations! And what are those mega-corporations doing with their tax cuts? They certainly are not passing them onto their workers by creating higher wages or hiring more employees. Corporations are giving huge windfalls to their CEOS and wealthy shareholders in the form of stock buybacks instead. And who does the stock buybacks benefit? The wealthy of course— who have already seen a windfall in tax breaks from the Trump-GOP tax plan.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doesn’t work for our families and it will continue to harm our economy. Instead, this Tax Day, we want to send a strong message that the tax scam should be repealed and instead we need tax policies, like improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit, that boost our families, create a brighter future for our children, and keep our economy healthy.

We want to raise our voices on this important issue in a highly visible way by filling newspapers across the country with our message!

***Send a Letter to the Editor to your local paper now and call on Congress to repeal the Trump Tax Scam and instead pass tax policies that lift up working families!

We want to flood our local newspapers with Letters to the Editors NOW so next week when everyone is talking about Tax Day our message is heard loud and clear. The truth is the tax scam isn’t for me, for you, and for the vast majority of families in this country. It won’t create jobs. It hurts our economy. It hurts our families. And it has upside down morals by prioritizing millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations rather than working families and growing kids.

Don’t worry—sending the Letter to the Editor is super easy! When you click on the link above, we’ll lead you through a quick process to write a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper. This tool is pretty magical—you can easily edit our pre-drafted letter, if you wish (inserting your personal story if you have one!), and send it to your paper with just a few clicks.

The pre-drafted letter (which you can edit when you click through to the link!) simply says:

It’s tax time and we are once again reminded that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (aka the Trump Tax Scam) has failed to bring true tax benefits to the vast majority of families in our community. That’s because mega-corporations and the 1 percent, who received an average tax cut of $51,000 last year alone, are experiencing a windfall from the TCJA. It’s not too late to do the right thing! This injustice must be remedied.

The TCJA is still wildly unpopular, especially among women—only 30% of women in the U.S. approve of the law. Instead, what most voters want is to make corporations and the top 1 percent pay their fair share! In fact, a recent poll found that three out of four likely 2020 voters support raising taxes on the rich.

Rather than continuing to give trillions of dollars away in tax cuts to mega-corporations, Congress should repeal this upside down, harmful law and instead concentrate its efforts on strengthening working family credits so our families can better care for their families and become more economically stable.

Expanding and strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit will go a long way to fixing our broken tax code and provide struggling families with the support they desperately need. Congress should pass improvements to these working family tax credits immediately. These are the types of tax policies our families need. Not trillions of dollars in tax giveaways to the already wealthy and mega-corporations.

***Can we count on you to submit a letter to the editor about the tax scam, in hopes that it will be published on or around Tax Day? 

After you click the link to send your Letter to the Editor, please forward this email to friends—and also post the action link on Facebook. The more of us who send letters, the bigger the impact we’ll have on Tax Day.

Thank you for being a strong voice for our families!

P.S. On Tax Day (April 15th) we'll be holding a Twitterstorm with partners using hashtag #WhatsInYourReturn. Join us and tell us your thoughts about the Trump Tax Scam!

Quick Action: Statewide day of action to expand Medicaid!

Sign up: Statewide day of action to expand Medicaid!

Medicaid helps families weather the storm during times of need—whether it be during a health care crisis or a time of financial hardship.

But in North Carolina, our lawmakers have yet to make this critical and often life-saving program available to about half a million low-income uninsured adults. On April 16th, MomsRising is teaming up with the Health Action NC coalition for a powerful statewide day of action to tell lawmakers to close the health care gap and expand Medicaid.

*Sign up to participate and take action on April 16th to tell lawmakers it’s time to expand Medicaid to low-income uninsured adults!

What is a day of action? When we all speak out together, we show our lawmakers that the people of North Carolina support expanding access to health care for low-income uninsured adults, making a big impact. On April 16th, we’ll send you a suite of actions you can take from home to join your voice with thousands of other advocates across the state, speaking out to close the health care coverage gap.

And for those who live near Raleigh, we’ll also include information on how to help with our delivery at the General Assembly. We’re delivering stories from people stuck in the health care coverage gap, fact sheets, and child-made umbrella crafts to remind lawmakers that “Medicaid helps families weather the storm.” (If you live near Raleigh and want to join us, you’re welcome to, but don’t worry if you can’t make it! We’re making it easy to take action from home, wherever you live in North Carolina!)

RSVP to participate on April 16th during our statewide day of action to close the health coverage gap!

Across the nation and here in North Carolina, health care is consistently at the top of the list when it comes to issues voters care about. Regardless of political party, religion, or race/ethnicity, our families have a common desire to lead healthy lives, which starts with quality health insurance coverage.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government set aside billions of dollars for our state to extend health care coverage to hard-working North Carolinians who live in poverty (or slightly above the poverty line). It seems like such a no brainer: Want to save lives and improve the health of our communities? Extend health insurance to those who cannot afford it!

Health coverage for about half a million low-income North Carolinians is hanging in the balance, so it’s never been more important for us to speak out on the positive impact that expansion would have.

Sign up! Let us know you’ll make your voice heard on April 16th for our statewide day of action.

We all have a stake in making health coverage more accessible in North Carolina! Most of the North Carolinians who would be Medicaid-eligible if our state were to expand the program are adults who are employed and work in retail, food preparation, hospitality, service industries, and agriculture. North Carolina’s economy relies heavily on these individuals, and they deserve to have access to the care they need to be able to see a doctor when they get sick.