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Merkley bill to address high rate of stillbirths, maternal mortality passes Congress, heads to president’s desk


WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Louisiana’s U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D., today announced this week their bipartisan Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act unanimously passed the Senate and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The bill will help bring down the shockingly high rate of stillbirths and maternal mortality in the United States by opening up more federal resources for stillbirth prevention activities and research.

One out of 75 U.S. births tragically result in stillbirths, accounting for nearly 21,000 stillbirths a year—more stillbirths annually than the number of babies who pass away during their first year of life.

“Stillbirth upends the lives of parents and families in Oregon and communities across America,” said Merkley. “Nearly 1 in 4 stillbirths are potentially preventable, and this crisis disproportionately impacts Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native communities. Our Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act is going to go a long way toward tackling this public health crisis by pouring robust federal resources into stillbirth prevention activities and research. I look forward to President Biden swiftly signing this bill into law.”

“This pro-life bill is nearly a law. This is a great step towards saving the lives of babies and mothers,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Every life is precious, and today, Congress affirmed that by improving access to stillbirth prevention.”

“The successful passage of The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act means the voices of thousands of grieving mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents made a powerful difference, and Congress acted. This never would have happened without the leadership of Senators Jeff Merkley and Bill Cassidy – and to them we are forever grateful. Thousands of babies’ lives will be saved because of this legislation,” said Emily Price, Healthy Birth Day, Inc. CEO.

The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2023 amends Title V, the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant of the Social Security Act, to clarify that stillbirth prevention activities and research are an allowable use of funds.

Data comparing the United States to other countries shows that our nation can and must do more to prevent stillbirth. In the last two decades, the stillbirth rate in the United States declined by a negligible 0.4 percent, and, in a report published by the World Health Organization comparing progress in improving stillbirth rates, the United States ranked 183 out of 195 countries.

In addition to Merkley and Cassidy, the Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act is cosponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Jim Risch (R-ID), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rick Scott (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act is endorsed by Healthy Birth Day, 1st Breath, Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health (formerly 2020 Mom), 2 Degrees Foundation, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), March of Dimes, Measure the Placenta, Mom Congress, PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy, “Reproductive and Placental Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine”, Return to Zero: H.O.P.E., Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Every Mother Counts, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), Start Healing Together, M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death), Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI), American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), What to Expect Project, Postpartum Support International, Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE) Foundation, National Education Association (NEA), Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH), Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, SUDC Foundation, and RH Impact.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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