By Sharon Muza, BS, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE
In the United States, there is some very good news with lots of reasons to celebrate as 2018 comes to a close. After an incredible effort by many maternal-infant health organizations in the USA, including tireless lobbying by organizations and individuals, H.R. 1318 Preventing Maternal Deaths Act has been signed into law by the President of the United States on Friday, December 21, 2018. This bill was sponsored in Congress by Congresswomen Jaime Herrera Beutler and Diana DeGette, and Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Shelley Moore Capito.
This bill has been in the works for over two years. H.R. 1318, the “Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017 authorizes, amends, and expands the Safe Motherhood initiative within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including authorizing support for State and tribal Maternal Mortality Review Committees that meet certain requirements.” The USA has the worst maternal mortality rates in the developed world. The rates in the USA have been rising and it is estimated that more than 60 percent of perinatal deaths are preventable. Our families deserve better and some government leaders (see above) have recognized this and pushed this bill into law with the President’s signature Friday night.
Doulas are a critical piece in supporting families during the childbearing year and DONA International leadership and many DONA International doulas have worked tirelessly in their communities and on a national level to help Preventing Maternal Deaths Act become law.
While the work continues, having this law in place allocates funding and resources toward reducing deaths that occur around the perinatal period. Sadly, maternal mortality adversely impacts families of color at much higher rates than their white counterparts. A Black mother is 3-4 times more likely to die during the perinatal period than their white peers.
It is important to still keep this issue at the forefront and ensure that adequate funds are allocated to address these critical concerns and make a difference in the lives of those who are having babies. We cannot rest until pregnant and birthing people have access to and can receive appropriate perinatal care. especially those who face additional challenges simply because they are people of color.
DONA International is very pleased that H.R. 1318 Preventing Maternal Deaths Act is officially law. We have collaborated with other like-minded organizations to stress how critical the issue of maternal mortality is in the USA, especially for families of color, and are pleased that our efforts have paid off with this law. DONA International will continue to support and advocate for practice changes and legislative action to improve the safety of birthing in the USA for our families. We appreciate your efforts and energy as DONA International members who care about families and perinatal outcomes.” – Ravae Sinclair, JD, CD(DONA), LCCE, DONA International President Elect.
Look for additional updates and opportunities to get involved through DONA International’s Advocacy Committee. Also, keep your eyes open for opportunities to lean in and offer your time and energy in your own communities.
For the moment, let’s celebrate that Preventing Maternal Deaths Act is now law and the fact that parents are dying around childbirth can receive the appropriate attention it deserves. America can do better and should do better. This law is going to help us in achieving this goal. Go Team!