Preventing Maternal Deaths

Did you know that, in the last year, the United States slipped from 41st to 50th place for the number of women whose deaths are due to  pregnancy-related complications?  Even more disturbing is that nothing is being done to study the causes of maternal deaths during pregnancy.

Earlier this month, Rep. John Conyers [D-MI14] introduced HR894,the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011.  This proposed legislation would provide grant funding for States to establish Maternal Mortality Review Committees to examine pregnancy-related deaths and to identify ways to reduce maternal mortality. The legislation would also help to eliminate disparities in health care, risks, and outcomes.

In introducing HR894, Rep. Conyers stated, “In the United States, more than two women die every day from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.  The aggregate pregnancy-related mortality ratio in the United States was 14.5 per 100,000 live births from 1998 through 2005, higher than the previous 20 years.  Additionally, African American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women.”

In a post on Huffington Post by Christy Turlington:

“The Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011, as a condition of receiving grants, will require States to do the following:

  1. Require health professional and facilities to report all pregnancy-related deaths.
  2. Investigate and develop case findings and summaries for maternal deaths.
  3. Establish review committees with OB-GYNs, midwives, nurses, social workers, health care facility representatives, members of affected communities, and other relevant stakeholders to recommend prevention strategies.
  4. Disseminate findings and recommendations.

We need reliable data on maternal deaths because without it, we are unable to respond to what is clearly a human rights crisis. The Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011 is a step towards reducing the needless loss of women’s lives in the US and preventing the complications that have risen steadily in recent decades.

Please encourage your representatives to contact Representative John Conyers to become a co-sponsor of the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011 in the 112th Congress.”

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we need to act now so that this can be a day of celebration for everyone. Please take the time to ask your Representative to cosponsor H.R. 894 and work diligently toward its passage.

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