Collins and Flowers’ plan to fight maternal and infant mortality signed into law

Collins and Flowers’ plan to fight maternal and infant mortality signed into law

In 2014, Illinois ranked 36th out of 50 states and Washington D.C. in infant mortality, with a rate of 6.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. California had the lowest infant mortality rate of 4.3 per 1,000 live births, and Alabama had the highest rate of 8.7 per 1,000 live births, according to the Illinois Infant Mortality Data Report published in 2018 by the Illinois Department of Public Health Office of Women’s Health and Family Services.

State Senator Jacqueline Collins recently issued a statement as Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law the remaining pieces of legislation in a plan by her and State Rep. Mary Flowers to reduce rising infant and maternal mortality rates.

“It’s fitting that this action comes the day after Black Women’s Equal Pay Day and mere days before Women’s Equality Day, because this is another stark reminder of how systemic bias harms not only women, but the many lives that a woman’s life touches,” Collins said. “When women of color’s medical concerns are ignored, their families pay the price.”

House Bill 1, signed into law in July, creates a Task Force on Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans.

House Bill 2 adds a host of maternal rights under the Medical Patients Rights Act, commonly called the Patient’s Bill of Rights. Among them, the legislation calls for the right to care before, during and after childbirth; the right to choose a midwife or physician in a setting of her choosing; the right to full and clear information on the benefits, risks, and costs of treatment and medication; the right to accept or refuse treatment or procedures and to have her wishes honored; the right to hold her child after birth if there is no immediate medical emergency; and the right to her medical professionals’ respect and sensitivity, among others.

House Bill 3 requires a hospital’s quarterly “report card” to include instances of preterm infants, infant mortality and maternal mortality, while also reporting racial and ethnic information about the infants’ mothers and the disparity of outcomes across different racial and ethnic groups.

House Bill 5 directs the Department of Human Services to ensure pregnant and postpartum mothers have access to substance use disorder services that are gender-responsive and trauma-informed.

House Bill 2438 provides for increased mental health care for mothers during pregnancy and postpartum.

“These measures are the first steps in what should be an urgent and ongoing effort to give all women power over their pregnancies,” Collins said. “I applaud the governor’s action today, and I call on everyone to be aware of the danger to new mothers. Change starts when we believe women.”

All measures are effective immediately with the exception of House Bill 2, which takes effect Jan. 1

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