LANSING, Mich., Sept. 29, 2022 — The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths compared with other high-income countries and is the only one in that group to see maternal mortality rates rising. To address this issue, members of Michigan’s Progressive Women’s Caucus (PWC) introduced a bicameral nine-bill package to improve maternal and infant health outcomes in the state.

“Women today are twice as likely to die from pregnancy than my own mom was when she had me,” said state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), chair of the PWC. “Pregnancy and childbirth take the lives of far too many people. What should be a time of celebration is ending in devastating heartbreak for the people who knew and loved the pregnant person. The Maternal and Infant Health package provides essential policies and support so we can eliminate maternal and infant mortality in Michigan.”

Over the last 25 years, maternal mortality rates have doubled across the nation with startling disparities between white women and women of color. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. Often this disparity is based on lack of adequate care, including in traditional hospital settings, for non-white mothers and birthing people. This lack of adequate care includes several factors like systemic institutional issues within health care. Birthing centers that are rooted in culturally competent, trauma-informed, patient-centered care are among the ways that mothers of color are seeking and reclaiming reproductive justice.

“Birth centers can be a cornerstone in the labor and delivery process for those who have been marginalized or whose experiences have been discounted,” said state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). “By providing licensure to these important centers, we are legitimizing the work they do and expanding access to these critical services. Licensure for these centers is an important tool in the toolbox to reducing maternal mortality, especially when Black, Latina, Indigenous and people of color have significantly higher maternal and infant mortality rates, compared to white people who give birth.”

Earlier this month, the CDC released data that revealed over 80% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. Mental health conditions, including deaths by suicide or overdose, were the leading cause of maternal mortality, followed by extreme bleeding or hemorrhage. The Maternal and Infant Health bicameral package would address these issues as well as several other areas of concern to better support the health and success of new parents and infants in Michigan. 

  • HB 5640/SB 787: Creates the Breastfeeding Privacy Act. (Rep. Lori Stone/Sen. Erika Geiss)
  • HB 6445/SB 1196: Creates a doula scholarship fund. (Rep. Padma Kuppa/Sen. Stephanie Chang)
  • HB 6443/SB 1197: Requires hospitals to provide an informational form on the health insurance enrollment process to parents of newborns.  (Rep. Kara Hope/Sen. Dayna Polehanki)
  • HB 6442: Waives the optional Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) five-year waiting period for lawful permanent residents. (Rep. Julie M. Rogers)
  • HB 6439/SB 1198: Requires mental health screenings for new mothers as part of their baby’s four-week, eight-week, six-month and 18-month check-ups. Would also require a list of mental health resources provided to the mother at the four-week check-up. (Rep. Rachel Hood/Sen. Mallory McMorrow)
  • HB 6440/SB 1199: Requires the above mental health screenings to be covered by private insurance. (Rep. Brenda Carter/Sen. Betty Jean Alexander)
  • HB 6444/SB 1200: Requires the above mental health screenings to be covered by Medicaid. (Rep. Sara Cambensy/Sen. Sean McCann)
  • HB 6441/SB 1201: Expands Medicaid coverage of carrier screening. (Rep. Laurie Pohutsky/Sen. Jeremy Moss)
  • HB 6438/SB 1202: Provides a path to licensure for birthing centers. (Rep. Laurie Pohutsky/Sen. Geiss)