ICYMI: Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, Second Lady Blayre Holmes Davis Highlight New State Investment in Maternal Health
August 24, 2023
PITTSBURGH – Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and Second Lady Blayre Holmes Davis joined KDKA’s “Talk Pittsburgh” program on Tuesday to discuss becoming first-time parents and highlight new investments in the state budget to improve maternal health — and particularly Black maternal health in the Commonwealth.
Last year, Pennsylvania’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee released a report that found the pregnancy-associated mortality ratio for Black women was twice as high, compared to non-Hispanic white women. When the committee analyzed those maternal deaths that were pregnancy-related, they found that more than 90 percent of the deaths were preventable.
The state budget that Gov. Josh Shapiro recently signed is investing $2.3 million into making sure the recommendations in the committee’s report are implemented. The Department of Health is adding staff and will expand its maternal health programming, and this investment will have a multiplier effect, allowing the state to draw down additional federal resources.
This investment and focus on maternal health is particularly important at this moment, as maternal deaths rose 89 percent from 2018 to 2021 and racial disparities worsened nationwide.
Lt. Gov. Davis: “For the first time in our Commonwealth’s history, we’re saying that government has a role to lead on maternal health issues … we’re investing that money to create an office within the Department of Health to staff up to begin to tackle those issues. The state did a maternal mortality study over the last few years, which came out with 135 recommendations to tackle this issue here in Pennsylvania. And now we’re beginning to take concrete action to put that to work.”
Second Lady Holmes Davis: “We have an issue in this country when it comes to health equity and how we’re treating Black women, specifically when it comes to maternal health, and so I think we need to make sure that Black women are having an empowering birth experience. But also on top of that, we need to make sure that when we’re talking about these numbers, they’re not just numbers – these are women who should be home taking care of their child.”