Opinion Pieces

Goldendale Sentinel: Protecting our moms is an important policy

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Goldendale, December 25, 2019 | comments
As a young mom and a lawmaker, I often consider the intersection of public policy and family health. It’s this experience that has spurred me to work hard on policy focused on improving health care for mothers—whether it’s keeping them safe during pregnancy, expanding access to maternal telehealth services or simply allowing mothers to carry breast milk through airport security. These are issues that matter to everyone.
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As a young mom and a lawmaker, I often consider the intersection of public policy and family health. It’s this experience that has spurred me to work hard on policy focused on improving health care for mothers—whether it’s keeping them safe during pregnancy, expanding access to maternal telehealth services or simply allowing mothers to carry breast milk through airport security. These are issues that matter to everyone.

Why?

Because you either are a mom or you have a mom.

Protecting moms starts during pregnancy. Shockingly, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations in the world. This is unacceptable, and the tragedy of moms dying during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum has motivated me to take action.

Last year my bipartisan bill, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, was signed into law. This bill marked the strongest step Congress has taken to reverse the growing trend of maternal mortality—but it was only a first step. This bill establishes and supports Maternal Mortality Review Committees to investigate every single pregnancy-related or pregnancy-associated death. Understanding the factors will help us develop strategies to prevent future mothers’ deaths.

More recently, two other important bills I’m supporting, the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act and the Helping MOMS Act, were approved by congressional committee. Both bills take direct steps to reduce maternal mortality and strengthen support for moms living in rural areas.

The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act focuses on tele-health, which leverages technology so a mom in Goldendale or Trout Lake can talk remotely to a specialist in Seattle or Portland. The Helping MOMS Act ensures new moms can access health services for one year after giving birth—a period when moms are most likely to encounter a health complication.

As a young mom in the U.S. House, I recognized the potential for Congress to do much more focused on promoting health in motherhood. That’s why I co-founded the Maternity Care Caucus—a group of Republicans and Democrats dedicated to finding common ground and pushing legislation focused on moms and babies. We’ve worked on solutions that have been signed into law like the BABES Act, which requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to accommodate parents traveling with breast milk, infant food, and feeding equipment.

Our bipartisan Maternity Care Caucus has also championed solutions to improve research on medication used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A few years ago, we successfully advocated that the Food and Drug Administration change its policies to allow the inclusion of a critical vitamin in corn masa, which will help prevent life-threatening birth defects among Hispanic communities in Southwest Washington.

I’m proud to be playing a part in solutions that help mothers in Klickitat County and across the country. After all, it truly does matter to everyone, because you either are a mom or you have a mom.

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