Press Release

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II

Sue Nigra, Director of Communications
         ; (518) 436-3461



Albany, NY - March 17, 2010 - The New York State Chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, (ACOG District II) is deeply troubled over the elimination of the Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI) - a ground breaking program that was created to save the lives of women across New York State while improving patient safety. Funding will cease for the Safe Motherhood Initiative March 31, 2010.

"Without the SMI, more women will die from unknown causes. It's as simple as that," said Cynthia Chazotte, MD, FACOG, Co-Chair of the SMI. "How heartbreaking it is that the State of New York - our partner in this initiative - is eliminating a program designed to save lives."

Since 2001, ACOG District II and the New York State Department of Health have collaborated on the SMI, which was formed in response to the alarming rate of pregnancy-related deaths (also known as maternal mortalities) in the state. Alarmingly, the maternal mortality rate in New York is among the highest in America. A major element of the SMI is to conduct timely, on-site reviews of such deaths. These visits, known as maternal mortality reviews, assist ACOG District II in developing state-wide recommendations and educational materials. Hospitals can then make changes in protocols to prevent future deaths, while medical staff gain a heightened awareness of the risk factors associated with these tragic losses.

"Through the SMI we have been able to identify key risk factors for maternal mortality such as obesity and hypertension," said Sandra McCalla, MD, FACOG, Co-Chair of the SMI. "The data we gather from SMI reviews are invaluable because the information plays a key role in preventing the tragedy that occurs when a family loses a mother due to a pregnancy related death."

The seriousness of maternal mortality continues making national headlines. Time Magazine recently issued a report entitled Too Many Women Dying in U.S. While Having BabiesABC News recently aired THIS STORY, citing a new report that says the number of women who died in California after giving birth has nearly tripled in the past decade. In addition, the Joint Commission, the group responsible for accrediting hospitals, recently issued an alert stating that "current trends and evidence suggest that maternal mortality rates may be increasing in the U.S."

"I would hope that legislative leaders, and the governor himself, realize how critical the SMI program is," said Scott Hayworth, MD, FACOG, Chair of ACOG District II. "New York has an opportunity to become a national leader in the effort to reduce maternal mortality. The SMI program should be duplicated in other states - not eliminated by our own. How very unsettling that is."

For more information about the Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI), please CLICK HERE. For more about ACOG District II,visit



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American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188 | Mailing Address: PO Box 70620, Washington, DC 20024-9998