Alarming Maternal Mortality Rates: Democrats Lead In Bi-Partisan Effort

An emerging bi-partisan group of women legislators is backing new legislation by state Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis) responding to Arkansas’s alarming maternal mortality rate. The bill would create a Maternal Mortality Review Commission at the Arkansas Department of Health.

Arkansas ranks 44th in the nation in maternal mortality rates. More than half of those deaths are likely preventable.
“I am proud to be a part of this bi-partisan group of legislators, who are stepping up to address a serious problem in Arkansas. The risks that pregnant mothers face in this state are unacceptably high. We owe it to the families of Arkansas and the mothers of Arkansas, to take this step during this Legislative session.” said state Rep. Deborah Ferguson. 
Ferguson, along with Republican Rep. Mary Bentley, garnered statewide media attention. Let’s stick with this legislation, and make sure it passes into law!
“The push to bring down the state’s infant and maternal mortality rates has been introduced by a bipartisan group of women lawmakers in Little Rock.

As Little Rock television station KARK reports, Arkansas has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the country.

Women lawmakers in the Senate and House agree that about half of these deaths are unnecessary and are working to figure out what is causing the deaths within the first year of birth.”

“The group in Arkansas is working with the health department, DHS, UAMS, Children’s Hospital and others on research.“If you look at infants, it’s birth defects, premature births,” says St. Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D- West Memphis). “It’s women who smoke, who are addicted to drugs. We know what a lot of the issues are, but really getting data to see exactly how many are dying of different things and being able to take action to correct that.”

The group said one example could be designating certain hospitals in the state as centers for high-risk mothers.”

“I think it’s just very important that we look into why mothers and infants are dying in the state in 2019,” said Deborah Ferguson, sponsor of the bill.The bill aims to establish a Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Arkansas is one of few states without one.

Outlined in the bill, the committee would be responsible for collecting data linked to maternal deaths and use it to develop strategies to prevent those deaths.

“You don’t need to proceed with anything unless you have good data,” said Ferguson. “We want to make sure the data we collect leads to better care and fewer deaths for women and infants.”

 “The Maternal Mortality Review Committee would investigate the deaths of women occurring during a pregnancy or up to a year afterward and make recommendations on how to prevent such deaths.The Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Quality Review Committee would review data on births and develop recommendations for improving outcomes.”

The bill says Arkansas has 35 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to the national average of 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It says about half of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. It says 35 states are conducting or preparing to conduct maternal mortality reviews.House Bill 1441 would create the Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Quality Review Committee. It would develop strategies for improving birth outcomes. Among other duties, it would develop recommendations for levels of care, create a system of continuous quality improvement, and disseminate its findings.”