Maternal Mortality and Self-Defense

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Help for New Mothers

More mothers are dying during childbirth. This trend is even more pronounced in rural areas.

On November 13, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee passed legislation focused on improving maternal health.

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began national monitoring of pregnancy-related deaths, it has observed a tragic trend. These deaths increased from 7.2 per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 16.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016. Improving outcomes for expectant and new mothers should be a health policy priority.

At the committee level, maternal deaths have been an object of bipartisan concern and the subject of bipartisan legislation.

A bill I cosponsored that emerged from the Energy and Commerce Committee last year, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018, was signed into law by President Trump. Our work in the recent Health Subcommittee markup built on that accomplishment.

H.R. 4995, the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act, combines two bipartisan bills in order to enhance the maternal health care provided by public health programs.

One of these bills, the Rural MOMS Act, is targeted to boost maternal health in rural areas specifically. It provides funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration to establish rural obstetric networks to improve outcomes in birth and maternal mortality.

The other, the Excellence in Maternal Health Act, authorizes grants to develop and promote best practices, support training, and operate evidence-based programs in the delivery of health care services to pregnant and postpartum women.

A separate bill, H.R. 4996, the Helping MOMS Act, would improve coverage for pregnant and postpartum women enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It does so by giving states the option of covering these women for a year instead of 60 days.

These bills are not yet law, but I hope that they will continue to advance with strong support. As I write this column, the full committee is expected to approve these maternal health measures at an upcoming markup. I believe they would make a positive difference in health outcomes for new and expectant mothers.

Right to Self-Defense

Like individual people, nations have the right to self-defense. It is an essential task of their governments. Events taking place in Israel and closer to home remind us of how essential it is.

Israel has undergone a barrage of rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip largely from the militant group Islamic Jihad in recent days. Almost 400 rockets were launched, forcing Israelis to head for cover as they sought to go about their daily lives. This assault highlights how Israel, one of our strongest allies, faces constant threats from entities that deny its reason even to exist.

Residents of the United States are fortunate not to constantly face rocket attacks, but there are still perils along some of our borders. Dangerous cartels smuggling drugs and human beings across the border from Mexico pose a danger to American citizens.

Just in the month of October, cartel gunmen forced the Mexican military to release the son of notorious cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, and nine dual American-Mexican citizens who had lived in Mexico for years, all women and children, were brutally killed in northern Mexico by drug traffickers.

These events occurred in Mexico, but violence in the past has spilled across the border from Mexico to the United States, even prompting presidents such as Woodrow Wilson to take military action. President Trump’s solution, to build a wall along the border, would help prevent that outcome and also slow the flow of illegal immigration and illicit substances into our country.

Yet Democrats in Congress have fiercely resisted giving him any funding for the wall, even holding up spending bills rather than provide these necessary resources to secure the border. I believe their stubbornness is short-sighted. In trying to prevent President Trump from earning a political win, they are blocking measures that would diminish very real threats to our safety and security.

I support our ally Israel standing up to defend itself, and I want our country to do so as well, especially where our borders are threatened. There can be very real consequences if we do not.

For questions, concerns, or comments, contact the Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, Washington office at 202-225-3861, or via email at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.