Lampitt, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle, Sumter and Benson Bills Addressing Concerns about Maternal and Infant Mortality Pass in Assembly

A two-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Raj Mukherji, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shavonda Sumter and Daniel Benson to combat the growing rate of maternal and infant mortality in New Jersey was approved by the full Assembly on Thursday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world, and is one of the only countries where maternal mortality is rising. In New Jersey, for every 100,000 live births there were 37.3 pregnancy-associated and pregnancy-related deaths. That is almost double the national average of 19.9.

The first bill (A-1862), sponsored by Lampitt, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle and Sumter, establishes a Commission dedicated to studying the causes and rates of maternal death in New Jersey.

The responsibilities of the Commission include reviewing and investigating maternal deaths; conducting witness interviews and hearing testimonies on material matters; considering public input and holding periodic public hearings; and identifying and promoting best practices in maternal care for all New Jersey residents.

“This bill allows us to further understand why our mothers are dying at such a high rate, and how we can change that,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “We owe it not only to our mothers, but to their partners and children to make New Jersey a leader in women’s health.”

“These maternal mortality rates are extremely unsettling,” said Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). The Commission will allow us to look closely as to what could be causing them. I’m interested in hearing directly from the community as part of the public hearings–all of this well help us gain better insight on how we can reverse this disturbing trend. ”

The second bill (A-2366) is sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, Mukherji and Benson. It supplements the first bill by requiring the Department of Health (DOH) to develop a state-wide Report Card of Hospital Maternity Care. The report card will be posted publicly onto the DOH website for each New Jersey hospital and include the number of C-section deliveries performed as well as the rate of complications experienced by patients receiving maternity care for both C-section deliveries and vaginal deliveries.

“Information and knowledge are the only way to combat this often-forgotten tragedy,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “In order to tackle this problem head-on, we must first understand why and how this is a problem.”

“It is imperative that we figure out why New Jersey mothers are dying at an unprecedented rate for such an industrialized country,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Collecting and investigating the data will enable us to develop solutions to prevent further tragedy.”

“The fact that New Jersey’s maternal mortality rate is nearly double the national average sent a clear message: we have a lot of work to do,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “A public report card will bring accountability and drive that rate down.”

Both bills now await further consideration by the Senate. The first bill (A-1862) was approved 73-0. The second bill (A-2366) was approved 72-0.