Over the past two decades, the rate of women dying either during pregnancy or soon after has more than doubled in Pennsylvania.
This week, the governor signed a new law to try to reverse that trend.
House Bill 1869, introduced by Republican Representative Ryan Mackenzie, would establish a “Maternal Mortality Review Committee.”
It passed unanimously, and it’s an idea that supporters say already has a history of success.
“We’ve done such a great job with infant mortality, that now we need to do the same with maternal mortality,” said Sara Goulet, deputy press secretary for the governor.
Since 2000, the Centers for Disease Control has seen an increase in the U.S. of pregnancy-related deaths. In Pennsylvania, the maternal mortality rate has more than doubled since 1994.
“They’ve been on the decrease across every other developed country in the world, and yet, on the increase here in the United States,” Goulet said.
Currently, the CDC monitors maternal mortality on a national level. The new law gives a process to review those deaths in Pennsylvania with the hope of it then leading to better ways of preventing those health problems.
“It can be preeclampsia, which can result in a stroke; hemorrhaging; there’s a number of issues that can come to light,” Goulet said.
There’s no timetable for when the committee will be established.
Right now, 32 other states have or are developing similar committees, which supporters say have been a model for success.
“That’s what we want to work toward, is finding ways to preventing those deaths,” Goulet said.
That 15-member committee will be established in the state’s Department of Health.