The shocking numbers of deaths and injuries among women during childbirth led the Rockland County Legislature to vote 15-1 Tuesday in favor of a federal bill that takes aim at the crisis.
Legislator Harriet Cornell, who introduced the memorializing resolution, said a USA Today investigation revealed that more than 50,000 women are severely injured each year during childbirth in the U.S. and approximately 700 women die.
“I was shocked by the newly-revealed statistics involving death and bad outcomes for women during pregnancy, delivery and afterwards,” Legislator Cornell said. “Especially when it is estimated that 60 percent of these deaths could have been prevented and half of the injuries reduced or eliminated with better care. Furthermore, the disparity affecting women of color is shameful.”
Cornell introduced the county resolution in support of the proposed federal Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards Act of 2018, known as the MOMS Act.
The legislation would:
- Promote and update maternal safety standards and best practices for hospitals.
- Create a grant program to help states and hospitals implement the best practices.
- Improve the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pregnancy Mortality Review Committee investigations of pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths.
- Direct the CDC to provide technical assistance to State mortality review committees to review pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated complications.
New York’s Department of Health data reveals that there has been a major increase in maternal mortality in the state, rising from 13.2 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006, to 25 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.
Leading causes of maternal deaths include cardiovascular conditions, infection, embolism, hemorrhage, and hypertension, according to the CDC.
The crisis is even worse in communities of color where black women die at up to four times the rate of white women due to racial disparities in the U.S. health care system, according to the CDC.
In New York, black women are 3.4 times more likely to die than white women and in some parts of the U.S., pregnancy-related mortality rate for African-American women is higher than in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Other studies show that this has been an ongoing problem dating back to 1979. The CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health examined all pregnancy-related deaths from 1979-1992 revealing that the overall pregnancy-related mortality ratio was 25.1 deaths per 100,000 live births for black women, 10.3 deaths for Latina women and 6.0 for white women.