WAVY: Lawmakers push federal bill that would fight rise in maternal mortality

WASHINGTON, D. C. (NEXSTAR) — Despite the U.S. being home to some of the best medical care in the world, the number of mothers who die during childbirth has risen.

Lawmakers want members of Congress to be aware of this.

“The notion that we are continuing to see our rates rise is inexcusable,” Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger said.

As the number of mothers who die during childbirth rises, especially among minorities, some lawmakers, like Spanberger, are promoting a bill to focus federal efforts on the crisis.

“It’s important to women, it’s important to children and families and it’s an important societal issue and one that we need to get a hold of,” Spanberger said.

Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in Virginia, black mothers are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.

Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin says part of the problem is systematic racism.

“When an African American woman comes in and has a certain complaint and she’s not taken as seriously as her white counterpart,” McEachin said.

Both McEachin and Spanberger say this bill is meant to improve health outcomes and address inequalities throughout the country, but it requires other lawmakers to recognize the severity of the crisis.

“We wanted to start a conversation if you will to make sure that the Congress is as up to date on these issues as our constituencies are,” McEachin said.

“This is a first real step from a legislative standpoint to better understand what is happening and to see where can the government play a role,” Spanberger said.

Other than Serbia, the U.S. is the only developed country in the world experiencing a rising maternal death rate. Unless action is taken, those numbers are expected to keep going up.


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