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On March 20, 2019, the New York State Assembly and Senate voted unanimously to pass legislation sponsored by Assemblymember Latoya Joyner and Senator Gustavo Rivera (A.3276/S.1819) to create a Maternal Mortality Review Board and Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Advisory Council. Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts worked closely with coalition partners and members to see this legislation introduced and passed, and advocates across the state raised their voices in support of this vital legislation.  The establishment of a Maternal Mortality Review Board is an important first step toward improving health outcomes for all pregnant New Yorkers.

Why is a review board necessary?

New York State currently ranks 30th in the country for maternal mortality. Mortality rates are compounded by racial disparities: black women are four times as likely as white women to die of pregnancy-related causes, a probability that is tripled in New York City.  Controlling for income and poverty level does not eliminate these disparities. Every year, more women die in the United States from pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed country; between 2000 and 2014, the U.S. maternal mortality rate increased by 26%. 

What will the review board do?

The Maternal Mortality Review Board will review each maternal death that takes place in the state of New York, as well as cases of severe morbidity, and recommend strategies aimed at preventing maternal deaths and complications in the future.  The fifteen-member board will represent multiple disciplines, with the aim of representing the diversity that exists among the women and mothers most at risk. The board will meet at least twice a year to examine cases of maternal death or morbidity, including the cause of death, factors leading to death, preventability of the death or complications, and best practices and strategies for reducing the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity.  The advisory council is tasked with reviewing the board’s findings and developing recommendations on policies and best practices to prevent maternal and morbidity. The legislation establishes that the advisory council will also hold public hearings and issue annual reports.

Many maternal health risks are treatable and there is no excuse for these high rates of troubling outcomes, particularly in a state that has a history of setting the standard for sexual and reproductive health care access.  Thank you to every advocate who called, wrote, and met with their representatives regarding this legislation; your voice matters, and your tireless advocacy will have a real and lasting impact on the future of New Yorkers.


Tags: maternal, maternal mortality, maternal health