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Congressman Ryan Costello

Representing the 6th District of Pennsylvania

Costello, Herrera Beutler, Conyers, & DeGette Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Maternal Deaths in the USA

March 3, 2017
Press Release
USA ranks 50th- legislation would help save women’s lives and improve the health of moms and babies

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ryan Costello (R-AP), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced the bipartisan Preventing Maternal Deaths Act to help save women’s lives and  improve the quality of healthcare and health outcomes for moms and babies.

This legislation would prevent maternal deaths by helping states establish or support Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) to examine pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths and identify ways to reduce these tragedies. It would also improve data collection and address disparities in maternal health outcomes, as well as help identify solutions to improve health care quality and health outcomes for mothers.

“As a husband, father, and policymaker, the nationwide statistics on maternal mortality rates are alarming,” said Rep. Costello. “While we’ve made great strides in improving the delivery of quality maternal healthcare, the data illustrates that we still have work to do.  By helping states better utilize this very data, we can then identify targeted, community-based solutions to improve maternal health and save lives. This legislation is a positive step forward.”

“Unlike in any other industrialized nation, the U.S. is seeing a rise in pregnancy-related deaths. For the sake of so many mothers and babies, we have to do better,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler. “Helping to establish and support Maternity Mortality Review Committees in states is a direct way to reverse this trend.  I hope that through this legislative effort, we can help save the lives of women and children during pregnancy, childbirth, and in the postpartum period.”

“Far too many women in America are facing pregnancy-related complications that end with the loss of life,” said Rep. Conyers. “African American women are at an even greater risk of maternal mortality. This should not still be an issue in 2017, which is why we must act now to review this issue and improve health outcomes for all women.”

“It is shameful that the United States ranks so poorly among developed countries when it comes to maternal deaths, one of the leading indicators of a nation’s overall health,” said Rep. DeGette. “We must do better; that’s why I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act. Colorado is advanced at monitoring the causes of maternal mortality through the state’s Maternal Mortality Prevention Program, and I’m confident we can achieve similar progress nationwide with the reforms implemented through this bill.” 

The United States is ranked 50th globally for its maternal mortality rate. In September 2016, a Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology study highlighted an alarming trend –unlike in any other industrialized country, maternal deaths in the United States are on the rise. The maternal mortality rate — maternal deaths per 100,000 live births — doubled to 35.8 in 2014 from 17.7 in 2000. 

Pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths are caused by a variety of factors, from complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and obstetric hemorrhage, to emerging challenges such as suicide and overdose due to substance use disorder. Through this legislation, Congress could help save lives by supporting state MMRCs that collect standardized data, and recommend public health solutions that fit their local community.

In addition, disparities in maternal health care have not improved in more than 20 years. African American women are three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the maternal mortality ratio for non-Hispanic white women was 12.5 deaths per 100,000 births compared with 42.8 deaths per 100,000 births for non-Hispanic black women.

Supporting organizations: The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Preeclampsia Foundation.