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Jones introduces bill to curb maternal death rate

Newborn babygirl lying on mother surrounded by nurses and father in hospital

Women died during pregnancy or during childbirth in Alabama in 2017 at a rate higher than in all but one state, and black women were much likelier to die than white women. 

U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., last week introduced the Maternal Outcomes Matter (MOM) Act of 2019 that aims to save more of those lives by creating a grant program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to foster innovation in health care. 

“It is absolutely appalling that here in the United States we have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world,” Jones said in a press release. “We can and must do better, and this bill is an important first step in addressing the maternal mortality crisis and preventing future tragedies. All women in this country, regardless of race or socioeconomic background, deserve quality access to maternal care.”

The legislation would also use those grants to train health care providers to avoid discrimination when providing medical care to expetant women, and would require the Health and Human Services department to submit a report to Congress on outcomes and best practices.

As the rest of the world saw a steady decline in the number of deaths during childbirth over the last several decades, women in the U.S. continued to die in greater numbers, The Washington Post found in 2018. Maternal death rates in the U.S. mirrored those deaths in Afghanistan, Lesotho and Swaziland. 

In Alabama 41 women died in 2017 from pregnancy or delivery, which was the second worst maternal death rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The high rates of maternal deaths in the U.S. are the result of high poverty rates, untreated medical conditions and a lack of access to medical care, The Washington Post reported. 

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According to a March 13, 2019, article in the Journal of the American Medical Association about 800 women die during childbirth in the U.S. each year, and 70 percent of those deaths are preventable and caused by hemorrhaging. 

The estimated maternal mortality rate in the U.S. was 26.4 per 100, 000 live births in 2015, the article states, worse than all other developed countries. The maternal mortality rate in Sweden that year was 4.4 per 100,000 live births, 9.2 in the United Kingdom, and 7.3 in Canada.


Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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