Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Calls for New Law to Protect Moms in Childbirth

January 18, 2019
Mary E. D'Alton, MD
Mary E. D'Alton, MD

Mary E. D’Alton, MD, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, joined Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to announce the reintroduction of the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards (MOMS) Act to reduce maternal mortality and racial disparities in maternal health on January 13, 2019.

“As a high-risk pregnancy doctor who became very concerned about maternal mortality and morbidity toward the end of the last decade, I am so glad to be here today as Sen. Gillibrand reintroduces the Modernizing Obstetric Medicine Standards Act,” Dr. D’Alton said.

The MOMS Act, originally introduced by Gillibrand on Aug. 28, aims to (1) authorize and expand the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) Program at the Department of Health and Human Services through 2023; (2) create a grant program to help states and hospitals implement the maternal safety best practices; (3) improve the CDC reporting on pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths and complications; and (4) direct the CDC to provide technical assistance to State MMRCs to review pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated complications.

According to the New York State Department of Health, maternal mortality in New York State has increased by 60 percent over the past 10 years.

“I remember vividly the first maternal death that I was involved in as a medical student,” Dr. D’Alton said. “I remember the face of the husband that I had to tell that his wife had died, and I remember the face of every person caring for that mom. The same is true for every death since, and if I remember each one so vividly, I can only imagine what it is like for the families.”

Racial disparities in maternal health have also worsened, especially for black women. In July 2018, the De Blasio administration shared preliminary findings that in New York City, Black non-Hispanic women are eight times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than White women - a significantly higher rate than the national average.

“We must solve the maternal mortality crisis and we must do everything in our power to end the racial disparities in our health care system,” Gillibrand said.

The new legislation is supported by Moms Rising, the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, National Birth Equity Collaborative, and Every Mother Counts.