ACOG Response to Rewire.News Commentary

May 7, 2018

"Access for all women to high quality, safe health care is a core value for ACOG and, for 67 years since its founding, ACOG has been dedicated to the advancement of women’s health.

"As part of ACOG’s broader mission, we have made a commitment to reducing maternal mortality—not just in words but in actions. It has not only been the basis of our presidential initiatives but our life’s work. As obstetricians and maternal-fetal medicine specialists, we’ve dedicated our careers to taking care of women who have complicated, high-risk pregnancies. We have both been touched by this tragedy and work every single day to reduce maternal deaths and improve the health of women.

"That’s why it has been extremely disappointing for our dedication to this cause to be called into question with an image that has, unfortunately, been taken out of context. As ob-gyns, we understand the full complexity of healthy motherhood and safe delivery. In no way did we mean to imply that women should avoid pregnancy. Access to all forms of contraception is important for all women so that they can choose if and when they want to become pregnant. Bringing a child into this world, normally a joyful occasion, can be a high-risk endeavor given all the acute and chronic conditions a woman can develop, especially if she’s not in the best of health to begin with due to an unplanned pregnancy. It was also meant to show that men are not exempt from taking on part of this responsibility, which is why the male form of contraception was shown.

"For the last decade, ACOG has worked with stakeholder organizations representing women, physicians, nurses, midwives and doulas to address the multiple, complex set of causes that have led to the untimely deaths of so many mothers in this country. Out of that effort, the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) was created, and now hospitals in 18 states are using the AIM maternal safety bundles to train providers on how to prevent and address common conditions in pregnancy such as hemorrhage and hypertension that can quickly become lethal. To date, there has been up to a 22 percent reduction in severe maternal morbidity among the first four states that have implemented AIM.  But in addition to systemic changes—and due to the higher rates of black maternal deaths—ACOG also recognized how critical it is to change the culture of medicine by addressing implicit biases and racism that contribute to racial health disparities and designed a specific bundle for this purpose. And through our partner organizations, including the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, ACOG continues to seek feedback and guidance on how to continually improve upon this work.

"We understand that our message has been received differently than we intended and we will use this response as a learning experience and a catalyst to continue striving to eliminate preventable maternal deaths. We hope to one day expand AIM to all 50 states and finally pass legislation that will help create and bolster maternal mortality review committees that will examine the causes of maternal deaths and help find community-level solutions. Because the truth of the matter is, there is not one primary cause of maternal mortality nor one way to prevent it. So, we must all work together, not against each other, if we hope to make true progress." – Lisa Hollier, MD, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Haywood Brown, MD, immediate past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Media Relations

Megan Christin
Director, Media Relations

Maggie McEvoy 
Manager, Media Relations

Jamila Vernon
Manager, Media Relations

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street SW, Washington, DC  20024-2188