INDIANAPOLIS — A bill to expand the definition of maternal mortality in Indiana is heading to lawmakers after being passed out of committee.
Under current law, "maternal mortality" refers to the death of a pregnant woman, irrespective of the pregnancy's duration, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy itself or management of the pregnancy.
Senate Bill 10 would change the definition of "maternal mortality" to include deaths of pregnant women from any cause.
"When I learned that Indiana's maternal mortality rate was nearly twice as high as the national rate, I knew there had to be some sort of underlying cause," said State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg). "As I did more research, I learned that there were 63 deaths in the first year of the report, leaving 63 children without their moms. I also learned that 86% of pregnancy-associated deaths occur postpartum and that substance abuse disorder was the most common contributing factor to these deaths. I would like to make it clear that many women can suffer from mental health disorders during and after pregnancy and that these unnecessary and unfortunate deaths can be prevented with the support of proper health care professionals."
The bill will also require a mental health professional to be present for the review of records by the statewide maternal mortality review committee.
Last summer, 13 Investigates found Indiana is among the worst in the country and was ranked in the top three for maternal mortality deaths. Numbers from America's Health Rankings and the Indiana Department of Health showed African American women dying at higher rates from childbirth complications.