Gov. Phil Murphy today signed legislation to establish a Maternal Mortality Review Committee to annually review and report on rates and causes of maternal mortality and morbidity in New Jersey, and to recommend improvements in maternal care.
“Improving health outcomes for New Jersey’s mothers is a vital component of tackling the maternal and infant health crisis,” said Governor Murphy. “This legislation will allow us to take a comprehensive approach to analyzing data and finding solutions to address maternal mortality and morbidity in our state. I commend my partners in Legislature for working with me to build a stronger, fairer and healthier New Jersey.”
“New Jersey’s maternal mortality rates are alarming, and for women and infants of color the statistics are even more distressing,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Today’s bill signing is a critical step forward in combatting the maternal and infant health crisis. From examining data to determining economic and social factors that contribute to maternal mortality, we are working every angle to better serve New Jersey’s mothers, babies and families.”
“This bill formally enshrines a critical group that helps us learn from tragic maternal deaths across NJ,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal. “Importantly, it also empowers us to convene stakeholders across government and the health care system to respond by improving the quality and safety of maternity care—with a particular focus on eliminating the shameful disparities in outcomes for Black women. I applaud the Governor and the Legislature for bringing us one step closer to breaking the back of institutional racism and its legacy on maternal-child health.”
Primary sponsors of the bill include Senators Joseph Vitale, Teresa Ruiz, and Nellie Pou; and Assemblymembers Pamela Lampitt, Raj Mukherji, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Shavonda Sumter.
“Race, ethnicity and socioeconomic standings should never influence the quality of maternal care a woman receives,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Teresa Ruiz. “Far too often we see the concerns of women of color fall on deaf ears, at times leading to catastrophic birth and post-partum complications. Tracking maternal care outcomes and continuously searching for ways to improve best practices will ensure that improving maternal mortality is an ongoing effort.”
“Our maternal mortality rates are unacceptable by any standard, and action must be taken,” said Senator Joe Vitale. “But if we want to be sure we are taking the right action, we need to know we have the right information. Formalizing the review committee will not only help centralize the data, it will open avenues for greater federal funding. These two together will ensure that once we know the most effective way to help the mothers of New Jersey, we will also be able to afford to take the appropriate steps.”
“How can we expect to fully understand the problem of maternal mortality in the State of New Jersey if we don’t have the information we need in a centralized database,” said Senator Nellie Pou. “I am proud to have sponsored this effort, and I look forward to seeing the benefits of knowing the exact scope of the problem. It is then, that we can truly determine the best course of action to take to help our mothers and their babies in this state.”
“It’s heartbreaking to think that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world, and it’s also unacceptable,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. “The Commission created under this new law will help us further understand why our mothers are dying at such a high rate, and how we can change that. We owe it not only to our mothers, but to their partners and children to make New Jersey a leader in women’s health.”
“New Jersey’s maternal mortality rate is almost double the national average, with 37.3 pregnancy-associated or pregnancy-related deaths for every 100,000 live births,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji. “It is imperative that we figure out why New Jersey mothers are dying at an unprecedented rate in a state with high-quality healthcare. Collecting and investigating the data will enable us to develop solutions to prevent further tragedy.”
“Information and knowledge are the only way to combat this overlooked tragedy,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. “In order to tackle this problem head-on, we must first understand why and how this is a problem. Then we can determine how to promote best practices in maternal care for all New Jersey mothers.”
“These maternal mortality rates are extremely unsettling,” said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter. “This 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 will help us gain better insight on how we can reverse this disturbing trend.”
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