Senate Committee Passes Lifesaving Legislation to Address Maternal Mortality and Severe Morbidity

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 26, 2018 – Today the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed the Maternal Health Accountability Act (S1112). Introduced by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), this bipartisan legislation will help save women’s lives and improve the quality of health care and health outcomes for mothers and their babies.

“No mom or baby should ever die from preventable circumstances and conditions such as preeclampsia,” said Eleni Tsigas, Chief Executive Officer of the Preeclampsia Foundation, a national non-profit patient advocacy organization dedicated to eliminating preeclampsia and maternal and infant death and a primary supporter of the legislation. “The Maternal Health Accountability Act takes necessary action by assisting states in identifying why pregnant and postpartum women are dying at increased rates in the U.S. and developing solutions that will improve health care quality, reduce health care costs, and save lives.”

“We’re very pleased that Senate HELP Committee leadership prioritized this legislation, and we urge its swift passage in the Senate and House. We also urge Congress to ensure that the resources are available to support states with this new effort. With a minimal investment, we can reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and devastating outcomes for women and their families,” said Tsigas.

The Maternal Accountability Act supports states in establishing or strengthening their maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs) – interdisciplinary groups of local experts in maternal, infant, and public health – to examine pregnancy-related deaths and identify locally-relevant ways to prevent future deaths, eliminate disparities, and reduce related adverse outcomes. The legislation addresses the devastating and costly health consequences that threaten the lives of too many moms and their babies in our country today by investing in local solutions that work.

The United States has some of the worst maternal death rates in the developed world. The U.S. is ranked 47th globally for its maternal mortality rate, and women die every day in the U.S. due to complications from childbirth. In September 2016, a Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology study highlighted an alarming trend – unlike in any other industrialized country, maternal deaths in the U.S. 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. 

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. A map highlighting the average number of maternal deaths by state can be found here.

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 will help save lives by supporting state MMRCs that collect standardized data and recommend health solutions that fit their local community.

Here are additional details on the legislation or you can contact Julie Allen with the Preeclampsia Foundation at

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