The House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality has started work on its charge to develop legislative strategies to decrease and prevent maternal deaths in Georgia.

“We have seen some very alarming statistics concerning maternal mortality in Georgia,” said Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), one of the committee members. “Maternal mortality is an extremely serious health issue that affects communities across our state, and it is critical that we address this issue. I am confident that the work of this study committee will result in significant and meaningful legislation in the 2020 legislative session to decrease maternal deaths.”

At its first meeting held recently, the committee heard from several health professionals on maternal mortality in the state who provided recent updates on maternal deaths in Georgia.

Reports on the number of maternal mortality rates may differ somewhat, but none of them are good for Georgia.

Several reports have Georgia ranked as the worst in the nation, others have Georgia second behind Louisiana. Either way, leadership in the House hopes to tackle the issue through this study committee which was established by House Resolution 589.

“Georgia simply cannot continue to have one of the nation’s worst rates of maternal mortality,” said Speaker David Ralston recently. “This is an issue which impacts all Georgians and demands a fact-based approach to problem-solving. I look forward to the study committee’s findings and recommendations which will be considered in the 2020 legislative session.”

Maternal mortality rates reflect the number per 100,000 live births of women who died during pregnancy or childbirth or in the weeks afterward.

Eight years ago, the human rights organization Amnesty International declared a “maternal health care crisis in the U.S.A.” and said worst of all was the state of Georgia.

In July 2018, a USA Today investigation concluded that “in Louisiana, the state with the highest maternal death rate, there were 58.1 deaths per 100,000 births over the course of the study period from 2012 to 2016. The next highest, Georgia and Indiana, had 48.4 and 43.6 per 100,000 births, respectively over that time.

Either way, Georgia is ready to address the issue. HR 589 states that,

“Georgia is among the top ten states with the highest maternal death rate; and maternal deaths are a serious public health concern and have a tremendous family and societal impact, affecting diverse populations;

It goes on to state, “the Georgia Maternal Mortality Review Committee has reviewed three years of maternal death data; and continued review of maternal deaths is recommended to understand trends in maternal deaths. Research performed by the Georgia Maternal Mortality Review Committee suggests 60 percent of these deaths are preventable; and there is a need to develop strategies and institute systemic changes to decrease and prevent maternal deaths in Georgia.”

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