Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Maternal Deaths
Promotes State Maternal Mortality Review Committees
March 2, 2017
Jamila Vernon, Media Relations Manager
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Debbie Helton, Director of Marketing and Communications
Washington, DC—The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Preeclampsia Foundation announce their endorsement of bipartisan legislation introduced today that will strengthen state efforts to prevent maternal deaths by addressing the devastating and costly health consequences that threaten the lives of moms and babies across the country.
The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Diana DeGette (D-CO).
“We’re very pleased to provide joint leadership with ACOG for this effort and thank these members of Congress for introducing legislation that will drastically reduce maternal death and disability across the United States,” said Eleni Tsigas, executive director of the Preeclampsia Foundation.
The statistics on maternal death are staggering. The United States ranks 50th globally for its maternal mortality rate and the maternal death rate continues to rise despite major advancements in medical technology and treatments. The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act recognizes that there is needed federal support for maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs)—interdisciplinary groups of local experts in maternal, infant, and public health—that examine maternal death cases using standardized data collection to identify locally relevant ways to prevent future deaths.
“Our nation’s ob-gyns are extremely concerned by the alarming rates of maternal death in the United States, especially among communities of color, and are working actively to reverse this trend,” said Thomas M. Gellhaus, MD, president of ACOG. “We know MMRCs are critical to understanding each tragic incident and recommending evidence-based public health improvements to save lives. MMRCs are local solutions to a national problem. We are confident this legislation will help us address this serious issue and create effective and cost-saving solutions that fit each community.”
The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act will support states in establishing or expanding their mortality review efforts and promote national information sharing through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so they can continue to learn from each other and collaborate as needed.
“Prevention requires an understanding of the causes of women dying,” said Thomas Easterling, MD, director of the Preeclampsia Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board and professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine at University of Washington. “Careful maternal mortality review identifies these causes and, in doing so, identifies what actions states can take to address them. Without review, we do not acknowledge these women and the loss they represent to their families and communities. We dishonor their loss of life and miss the opportunity to protect their sisters and daughters.”
Recent studies have shown that at least 41 percent of maternal deaths were likely preventable and yet preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are still a leading cause of maternal and infant death and severe health consequences. Every year, up to 300,000 pregnant or postpartum women develop a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, with approximately 75,000 of them suffering organ failure, massive blood loss, permanent disability, premature birth, or death and/or death of their babies. Congress consistently invests to reduce infant mortality. The same investment needs to be made to help save the lives of the nation’s mothers.
For full details on this legislation, visit www.preeclampsia.org/PreventingMaternalDeathsAct.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org
The Preeclampsia Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2000. As a patient advocacy organization, the Foundation provides patient education and support, catalyzes research, and improves healthcare practices, envisioning a world where preeclampsia and related hypertensive disorders of pregnancy no longer threaten the lives of mothers and their babies. For more information, visit www.preeclampsia.org