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State Rep. Vanessa Summers calls for Indiana Legislature to honor commitment to maternal health

IBLC, News & Media

INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) today celebrated the first-ever White House Maternal Health Day of Action by calling on the state of Indiana to take comprehensive legislative action to address its dystopic maternal mortality rate.

In his State of the State address during the 2021 Legislative Session, the Governor announced his commitment to improving maternal health in Indiana, specifically through his support of legislation to provide pregnancy accommodations to working Hoosier mothers. In the end, the pregnancy accommodation legislation was watered down and all other legislation to address maternal health, such as Summers's House Bill 1155, failed to pass.

“I keep hearing state leaders say they're committed to improving maternal health, but no real action is taken,” Summers said. “We still have Black and Hispanic mothers dying at higher rates than white mothers and we've found that the majority of these deaths are preventable. Hoosier mothers need more than words. They need action.”

For the 2022 Legislative Session, Summers plans to introduce legislation to ask the General Assembly to study doulas and their impact on pregnancy outcomes.

As defined by DONA International, a doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth in order to help achieve the healthiest, most satisfying pregnancy experience possible.

Studies have found that doulas improve maternal health outcomes and lower rates of medical intervention during birth.

“Doulas help save lives, especially for Black mothers and their babies,” Summers added. “Oftentimes, Black mothers will turn to doulas because they can provide more culturally-informed care, something seriously lacking in our hospitals. Having that understanding makes all the difference for the mother and her health.

“It is my hope that by studying doulas and diving deeper into their services and care, the Legislature will have a better understanding of why Hoosier mothers need doulas. Then, legislation like last year's House Bill 1350 would have a better chance of passing and helping to reduce our awful maternal and infant mortality rates.”

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