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Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Representing the 14th District of Michigan

U.S. Rep. Lawrence Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes for Pregnant Veterans

April 19, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14) reintroduced H.R. 2521, the Delivering Optimally Urgent Labor Access for Veterans Affairs, or the DOULA for VA Act. This legislation would establish a pilot program to furnish veterans with doula support services and to measure the impact these services have on pregnant veterans’ childbirth, mental health, and infant care outcomes. Pregnant veterans disproportionately experience mental health afflictions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. This legislation is supported by the leadership of the House Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.

“The United States has a maternal mortality crisis. As we work to address this serious public health issue, we must make sure pregnant veterans are included in our conversations,” said Rep. Lawrence. “Those who have served our country must be afforded optimal maternal and mental health care that considers their veteran-specific experiences. This includes the support of doulas who have a proven positive effect on the health outcome of the mother and child. With Republican and Democratic support from the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, I’m proud to reintroduce this bill to help pregnant veterans get the resources they need and deserve to keep their life and the life of their child safe and healthy.”

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Perinatal Education found that “expectant mothers matched with a doula had better birth outcomes than did mothers who gave birth without involvement of a doula.” While women veterans have increasingly been relying on the Veterans Health Administration for maternal health services, doula services are not currently an integrated part of this model.

Under the DOULA for VA Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs would be required to administer the pilot program of doula support services, developed through consultation with stakeholders, including veterans’ organizations, community-based health care professionals such as doulas, and experts in promoting equity in health care. The program will provide meaningful support to pregnant veterans before, during, and after their pregnancy.