March of Dimes today commended the U.S. Senate for approving the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act (H.R. 1318) by unanimous consent just two days after the House of Representatives passed the bill aimed at reducing maternal mortality.
Each year, more than 700 moms die due to pregnancy-related causes, and an estimated 50,000 suffer life-threatening complications. H.R. 1318 will provide funding to states and tribes to establish and improve maternal mortality review committees. These committees include local experts on maternal, infant and public health who investigate cases of maternal death and develop recommendations to prevent them.
“We thank the Senate for recognizing that pregnant women in this country are facing a public health crisis and moving quickly to approve this legislation before the end of the year,” said March of Dimes President Stacey D. Stewart. “Maternal mortality is preventable and with this bill we will be better able to understand the underlying causes to help us prevent future deaths.”
In September, Stewart testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and told lawmakers that the U.S. is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth and called for the swift passage of H.R. 1318.
Stewart also noted that while other countries have reduced their maternal mortality rates, the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes in the U.S. has doubled in the last 25 years.
“Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women – a truly shocking and appalling disparity,” she said.
To spur congressional action, March of Dimes launched the landmark #BlanketChange campaign in October to urge elected officials to support specific maternal and child health priorities. The campaign also included a “blanket memorial” on the National Mall, where 700 receiving blankets were laid out to represent the 700 women who die from pregnancy-related causes each year. Concurrently, March of Dimes released a report illustrating so-called “maternity care deserts” across the U.S. where it is difficult for millions of women to obtain health care services related to pregnancy and childbirth.