The federal government should do more to reduce the high number of women who die during childbirth, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Sunday.
The New York lawmaker introduced the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act this summer that calls for the creation of a five-year, $200 million grant program for hospitals. The legislation would also direct the federal Department of Health and Human Services to create new best practice guidelines for hospitals.
“Giving birth to a baby is supposed to be the happiest moment of our lives,” Gillibrand said. “I have two sons and I know that feeling first-hand. But there are women all over our city, our state and every part of this country for whom pregnancy and childbirth is an unspeakable tragedy.
“Hundreds of women have died in hospitals because of medical complications related to pregnancy and child birth,” she added.
The issue is particularly problematic in New York State, where the maternal mortality rate ranks 30th in the country, she said. The number of deaths has increased to 25 per 100,000 live births in 2015 from 13.2 per 100,000 live births in 2006, according to the state Health Department.
Additionally, in New York black women are 3.4 times more likely to die during childbirth than white women.
“It’s totally unacceptable,” Gillibrand said. “It’s outrageous that a woman’s race is determinative of whether or not she will be more likely to survive childbirth.”
Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts, also urged the federal government to do more during the Sunday press conference. The model experienced postpartum complications after giving birth to her daughter in 2003.