Cephas introduces legislation to lower maternal mortality rates

HARRISBURG, Dec. 18 – In her continued effort to bring awareness to the disproportionate number of deaths of women of color during and after childbirth in the commonwealth, state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., announced she has introduced a package of bills aimed at addressing maternal mortality rates.

“Pennsylvania has seen an increasing, disturbing trend in pregnancy-related deaths, with 11.4 deaths per 100,000 live births from 2012 to 2016. For women of color during that time period, that rate was more than double, at 27.2 per 100,000 live births. This is a clear indication that regardless of income and education levels, women of color are at an even greater risk than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications,” Cephas said.

The bills introduced by Cephas are:

  • H.B. 2107 – Would add severe maternal morbidity to the list of reportable events within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
  • H.B. 2108 – Would extend Medicaid coverage for pregnancy related and postpartum medical assistance.
  • H.B. 2109 – Would extend Medicaid coverage to doula services and create a Doula Advisory Board.
  • H.B. 2110 – Would require training to address implicit bias and culture competency that impact care and quality of care for patients of color, including women of color during pregnancy and childbirth. 

“While the death of any mother is a tragedy, the fact that many of these deaths could have been prevented is an absolute travesty,” Cephas said. “My legislation would help increase access to care and address bias within the healthcare system. We need to close the gaps for services and resources for women to ensure they have access to quality healthcare and to improve the health outcomes for mothers and babies in our commonwealth.”

In addition to her role as co-chair on the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, Cephas chairs the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ Subcommittee for Women and Girls of Color and has been a stalwart at addressing the rise in pregnancy related deaths. She has coordinated meetings with stakeholders in Philadelphia and across the state, including the city’s health department and area delivery hospitals to discuss potential solutions, spearheaded the efforts of the Philadelphia Women’s Commission’s Maternal Mortality Initiative, and hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing earlier this year to better assess the issue.