NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Luján (D) is among the congressional lawmakers who want more midwives in the U.S. The idea behind their latest legislative push is to boost the workforce in order to cut down on infant mortality and maternal health issues.

“Dating back to the traditional curandera-parteras of the early 1900s, midwives have long been an essential part of New Mexico’s health care system – safely delivering children, caring for families, and improving maternal health outcomes,” Luján said in a press release. “I’m proud to reintroduce bipartisan legislation that delivers additional funding for midwifery education to boost the maternity care workforce and increase diversity. As the maternal and infant mortality crisis continue to impact Black, Native American, and Hispanic communities, this legislation is an important step to address this disparity and keep families healthy.”

The bill, called the Midwives for Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services Act of 2023 (or the MOMS Act), increases funds for midwife education, and there’s a particular focus on bringing more diversity to the profession.

New Mexico’s Department of Health currently lists over 300 midwives in New Mexico, but recent reporting reveals there are dire need for more maternal health professionals in certain communities.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to better fund maternal care via midwife training. In 2021, the act appeared in the U.S. House but ultimately stalled out. Now, a handful of lawmakers from varying states like Alaska and Iowa are trying again to get the legislation passed.