Pennsylvania Officials Discuss Maternal Mortality Crisis, Highlight Solutions

maternity© SeventyFour / Getty Images / Canva

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania state officials recently convened at the Pennsylvania State Museum for a panel discussion and screening of the documentary, “Aftershock.” The event, hosted by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Women and the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, alongside Representative Gina H. Curry and Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen, shed light on the alarming maternal mortality rates in the state and highlighted potential solutions.

Governor Josh Shapiro has shown a commitment to battling this public health crisis. In his first year in office, he secured $2.3 million to expand maternal health programming and signed Senate Bill 262, aimed at improving access to timely data on maternal health and maternal mortality in Pennsylvania. This legislation allows researchers, doctors, and policymakers to make more informed decisions about medical care for mothers and families.

Second Lady of Pennsylvania Blayre Holmes Davis, herself a new mother and a longtime advocate for Black maternal health, expressed her pride in the administration’s prioritization of this issue. She emphasized that the voices of Black women, including high-profile figures like Serena Williams and Allyson Felix, have finally begun to resonate and their experiences acknowledged.

“The tragic and unacceptable reality of maternal mortality is far too common in the U.S. and Pennsylvania,” said Acting Health Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen. According to her, Black women in Pennsylvania are twice as likely to die related to pregnancy and childbirth compared to their white counterparts. She called upon government and community leaders, healthcare professionals, and others to identify and address the root causes of maternal morbidity and mortality.

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Anette Nance, Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, stressed that empowering Black maternal health through awareness and education was not just a commitment to women but an investment in the well-being and resilience of future generations.

State Representative Gina H. Curry echoed these sentiments, highlighting the urgent need to address the tragic outcomes surrounding childbirth, particularly for Black women in Pennsylvania. She called for continued work on improving accessibility and affordability of care.

The event was a sobering reminder of the enormity of the maternal mortality crisis in Pennsylvania, particularly among Black women. But it also offered hope, showcasing the commitment of the state’s officials to tackling this issue head-on. The task at hand is immense, but the resolve to meet it appears to be growing stronger.

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