Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center

Zonta International is a global organization of individuals dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. With your help, we can make a difference. In addition to the actions below, click here to support our joint efforts with UNICEF USA to end child marriage in the United States.

Address maternal and infant mortality crisis by increasing number of midwives
The United States ranks far behind almost every other developed country in birth outcomes for both mothers and babies, including unacceptably high rates of maternal and infant mortality, preterm births, and severe complications of pregnancy that have adverse effects on women’s health. Communities of color disproportionately experience these tragedies surrounding birth.

Research has shown that midwifery is associated with high-quality care and outcomes. Patients of midwives report high levels of satisfaction, and midwifery care can lower health care costs. However, midwives are present at just 9% of all births in the U.S. More than half of all counties in the U.S. do not have a single practicing nurse-midwife or certified midwife.

The bipartisan Midwives for Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2021 (S. 1697 and H.R. 3352) aims to address the maternal and infant mortality crisis by increasing the number of trained midwives in the United States. The bill establishes two new funding streams for midwifery education and increases diversity in the maternity care workforce by prioritizing students from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Midwifery is an apprentice training program; and, due to inadequate funding for midwifery training programs and difficulty in finding preceptors to train students, there has not been a lot of growth in midwifery training programs. The funding authorized in the Midwives for MOMS Act is split into three streams to address the largest challenges facing the recruitment and training of midwife students: 

  • Expanding the capacity of midwifery programs.
  • Compensating midwife preceptors (who are currently not compensated financially for training midwife students).
  • Helping midwife students pay for the education they need to practice.

To increase diversity in the maternity care workforce, the Midwives for MOMS Act also requires that midwifery programs prioritize funding for programs that demonstrate a focus on increasing racial and ethnic minority representation in midwifery education and that target students who plan to practice in health professional shortage areas.

In May 2021, Senators Ben Ray Luján [D-NM] and Lisa Murkowski [R-AK] introduced S. 1697 in the Senate, and Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard [D-CA] and Jaime Herrera Beutler [R-WA] introduced a corresponding bill, H.R. 3352, in the House of Representatives. Please use our pre-drafted letters to urge your senators and representative to co-sponsor and support the Midwives for MOMS Act of 2021. If they have already sponsored or co-sponsored the bill, you can send a message of thanks.

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