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House Legislation

House Legislation

June 23, 1999

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Member of the Congressional Women's Caucus, joined members from both sides of the aisle in introducing the "Safe Motherhood Monitoring and Prevention Research Act of 1999."

"This legislation is the cornerstone of my effort to promote better health and to educate women about their pregnancies," says Congresswoman McKinney.  "The discrepancy of maternal mortality rates between black and white women is alarming and it borders on being a crisis.  Despite tremendous advances in science and technology in the last 20 years our nation has failure to make progress on maternal mortality.  And the disparity between black and white women on such a basic health issue--safe motherhood--is appauling."

A report released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on June 18, 1999 shows that for many women, particularly minorities, motherhood can still be deadly.  In fact, maternal mortality has not declined in the U.S. since 1982.  For black women, the statistics are far worse.  Nationally, maternal death rates among black women are four times those among whites.  This represents the largest racial disparity in all public health and we need to find out why.  We need to get more data and improve standards of care. 

"As an African-American woman and a mother, I am primed to make sure that something is done about it and because this is shocking, the timing couldn't be better for action.  Along with CDC's efforts, we are introducing this legislation that is designed to make safe motherhood a research priority in this country for all women," notes Congresswoman McKinney.

CDC estimates that every day:

*2-3 women die from pregnancy related conditions.

*2,100 women experience major pregnancy related complications before labor begins.
*2, 500 women have Cesarean section delivery.
*2,600 women experience major labor related complications.

*Maternal Mortality in the United States increased from 8% in 1966 to 35% in 1996. Black women are more likely to experience infant mortality than others.  In fact, the poorest rate for white women is better than the lowest rate for Black women. 

*Georgia's Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System reported from 1993-1997 an overview of the behaviors and experience of Mothers in Georgia.  Of the women responding to the survey, 16% were less than 20 years old, 54% were between the ages of 20 and 29, and 30% were 30 years old or older, nearly two -thirds (63%) of the mothers were white and 35% were black. 

"Our research dollars must get to the root of the problem.  If we can save just one life with this legislation we have been successful in our effort to promote safe motherhood," concludes Congresswoman McKinney.

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