NAACP Calls for Swift Passage of H.R. 849 Legislation to Reduce Maternal Mortality

BILL WOULD REQUIRE STATES AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO CREATE PLANS TO MEASURE AND REDUCE THE NUMBER OF WOMEN WHO DIE BECAUSE THEY ARE PREGNANT OR DURING CHILDBIRTH

Every day 2 to 3 women die during pregnancy or childbirth; a disproportionate number of these women are African American. In fact, African-American women are currently three to four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than Caucasian women. In, 2006 the maternal mortality ratio for Caucasian women was 9.1 deaths per 100,000 births compared with 34.8 deaths per 100,000 births for African American women. These rates and disparities have not improved in more than 20 years, despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of these deaths are preventable. There is also a disparity between women who live in low-income areas of the United States, who were twice as likely to suffer a maternal death than women in high income areas. With hundreds of deaths every year, the United States currently ranks 50th in the world for risk of maternal mortality; in other words the United States had a higher maternal mortality rate in 2010 than 49 other countries in the world. Furthermore, severe complications that result in women nearly dying, known as a “near miss” or severe morbidity, according to some estimates, increased by 25 percent between 1998 and 2005, to approximately 34,000 cases a year, or one woman every 15 minutes.

To address this problem and the unacceptable disparity, Congressman John Conyers (MI) has introduced the Maternal Mortality Accountability Act of 2011 (H.R. 894). This important bill is a crucial first step in addressing the very real problems associated with maternal mortality and these disparities. Specifically, this bill will provide grants to states to establish Maternal Mortality Review Committees to examine pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths and to identify effective strategies to reduce maternal mortality. It will also improve data collection and establish programs to eliminate the racial and ethnic disparities. This data collection also addresses maternal morbidity – or cases in which the woman almost died – and will go a long way toward defining, and addressing, the problem.

THE NAACP CALLS FOR SWIFT PASSAGE OF H.R. 849. THE MATERNAL MORTALITY ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2011

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