Sen. Jeff Merkley Co-Leads Stillbirth Prevention Legislation
DES MOINES, Iowa, March 10, 2022: Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-North Carolina), and Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) have introduced the bipartisan Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2022 into Congress for consideration. The House and Senate companion legislation would add stillbirth and stillbirth prevention to Title V of the Social Security Act — something that has been lacking since the introduction of Title V back in 1935. Healthy Birth Day, Inc. the nonprofit organization that created the Count the Kicks stillbirth prevention campaign, helped initiate the legislation after discovering the omission of stillbirth from the most important piece of maternal health legislation in our country.
Every year, 47,000 expectant parents will lose their baby to stillbirth, according to the CDC. The annual number of stillbirths far exceeds the number of deaths among children aged 0-14 years from preterm birth, SIDS, accidents, drownings, guns, fire, and flu combined. Racial disparities persist, with 1 out of every 96 Black pregnancies ending in stillbirth. Hispanic and Indigenous women are also at greater risk of losing their babies.
“I am so excited to see stillbirth prevention finally being discussed by our country’s top decision makers. I wasn’t given critical stillbirth prevention education when I lost my son Benjamin to stillbirth in 2015, but other mothers can have it now. This information is what we need to educate expectant parents to help prevent future stillbirths and the heartbreaks that come with tragic loss,” said Angi Young of Eugene.
The legislation recognizes that stillbirth (defined as the loss of a baby at 20 weeks or greater during pregnancy), and the disparity in those impacted by stillbirth, requires further research, support, and prevention programming. It also calls for evidence-based programs and activities and outcome research to reduce the incidence of stillbirth including tracking and awareness of fetal movements, improvement of birth timing for pregnant people with risk factors, initiatives that encourage safe sleeping positions for pregnant people, screening and surveillance for fetal growth restriction, efforts to achieve smoking cessation amongst pregnant people, community-based programs that provide home visits or other types of support, and any other research or evidence-based programming to prevent stillbirths.
“This legislation is for the hundreds of thousands of expectant parents in this country who have lost a baby to stillbirth. It is a strong, bipartisan effort to acknowledge the silent crisis of stillbirth in this country and that we must do more to prevent preventable stillbirths through awareness and funding. We are deeply grateful to Senators Merkley and Cassidy and Congresswomen Adams and Hinson for championing this issue,” said Emily Price, Executive Director of Healthy Birth Day, Inc.
Healthy Birth Day, Inc. encourages families and maternal health professionals who have been impacted by stillbirth to share their personal stories at StillbirthStories.com and on a variety of Stillbirth Stories social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The goal is to elevate the issue of stillbirth so that we put a face to tragic birth outcomes that have long been ignored.
We encourage everyone who supports this legislation to visit bit.ly/StillbirthPreventionAct as an easy way to learn more about the bill and reach out to your member of Congress to let them know you support it.
The following organizations have endorsed the bill: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Every Mother Counts, Healthy Birth Day, Inc., March of Dimes, Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, Measure the Placenta, Mom Congress, Moms Rising Together, PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy, Reproductive and Placental Research Unit-Yale School of Medicine, Return to Zero: HOPE, 1st Breath, 2020 Mom, and Star Legacy Foundation.
Kimberly Isburg, Healthy Birth Day Inc. Communications Specialist