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.