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Higgins announces approval of bills expanding protections for pregnant employees & improving maternity care for veterans


Tue, May 18th 2021 01:30 pm

Protecting Moms Who Served Act & Pregnant Workers Fairness Act advance through Congress

Congressman Brian Higgins announced approval of H.R. 1065, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and H.R. 958, the Protecting Moms Who Served Act. The bipartisan bills address health and safety issues for expecting mothers.

“The United States has very poor maternal mortality rates compared with other industrialized nations. We need to do much better,” Higgins said. “This legislation supports working mothers, both those who served their country and those who work in the community, toward the goal of healthier families.”

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act includes policies aimed at improving workplace conditions and reducing situations connected to an increased risk of miscarriage or premature delivery, including restricting a pregnant worker’s exposure to hazardous materials, extended periods of standing or sitting, lifting of heavy objects, and excessive work hours. The bill prohibits workplace discrimination and guarantees the right of pregnant workers to reasonable accommodations.

The Protecting Moms Who Served Act formally codifies and provides an additional $15 million for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ maternity care coordination program, which ensures providers are specially trained to address the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum veterans. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs reports women between the ages of 18 and 44 represent over 40% of women veterans using the VA for health care. The legislation also requires an in-depth examination of maternal mortality rates to better inform future policies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System reports deaths during and up to one year post-pregnancy have nearly doubled over the past 30 years. For 2018, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. was 17.4 deaths per 100,000 births, more than twice as many as Canada and nearly three times higher than the U.K. For Black women, the risk is even higher, with a rate of 37.3 deaths per 100,000 births.

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