Legislation filed requiring maternal mortality documentation

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

Maternal mortality rates in the United States have more than doubled since 1987, while pregnancy-related deaths across the world have been in decline. Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, wants to implement maternal mortality reporting in Oklahoma to address this concerning statistic.

“Complications linked to surgical deliveries, pre-existing conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, and access to quality healthcare are the leading reasons women are facing startling pregnancy-related death statistics,” Young said. “We must do more to ensure women are receiving adequate health care, resulting in positive outcomes for both mother and child.”

Senate Bill 1238 would require the chief medical examiner to report a death to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) if a woman dies in a hospital after delivery or within 42 days after delivery from any cause related to the pregnancy. The medical examiner would be required to indicate if the death was related to maternal mortality on the death certificate. The bill also directs the OSDH to maintain and report data on maternal mortality, including the number of deaths reported by county and race.

National data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show racial disparities are a driving factor in maternal mortality. African American women are 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes than white women. Black women face 44 deaths per 100,000 live births, while white women face 13 deaths per 100,000 births and women of other races face 14 deaths per 100,000 births. 

“Maternal mortality is an epidemic we should all be paying attention to,” Young said. “We cannot effectively address this issue in Oklahoma until we gather state maternal mortality data. Reporting childbirth-related deaths is the first step in reversing this staggering national trend.”

For more information, contact:

Sen. George Young at 405-521-5531, or email George.Young@oksenate.gov.