Idaho Drops Panel Investigating Pregnancy-Related Deaths as US Maternal Mortality Surges

by | Jul 7, 2023 | Health

On July 1, Idaho became the only state without a legal requirement or specialized committee to review maternal deaths related to pregnancy.

The change comes after state lawmakers, in the midst of a national upsurge in maternal deaths, decided not to extend a sunset date for the panel set in 2019, when they established the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee, or MMRC.

The committee was composed of a family medicine physician, an OB-GYN, a midwife, a coroner, and a social worker, in addition to others who track deaths in Idaho that occur from pregnancy-related complications. Wyoming studies its maternal deaths through a shared committee with Utah. All other states, as well as Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, and Puerto Rico, have an MMRC, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group.

A majority of the state committees were established within the past decade as federal officials scrambled to understand state and local data to address gaps in maternal care. The committees review deaths that occur within a year of pregnancy and identify trends, share findings, and suggest policy changes.

Liz Woodruff, executive director of the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians, said she was “incredibly disappointed” by the legislature’s decision to scuttle the committee. “It seems relevant that the state of Idaho supports a committee that works toward preventing the deaths of pregnant wo …

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