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Six maternal and infant-health related bills are signed into Delaware law

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

Gov. Carney signed six maternal and infant health-related bills into law on Monday.

“It’s a great day for moms and babies and it’s especially a great day for Black women,” said State Representative Melissa Minor-Brown

Minor-Brown championed the six bills relating to maternal and infant health -- dubbed the “momnibus” package.

She says it was imperative to pass the bills together since each addresses an important piece to improving the well-being of mothers and infants endangered by regularly going without the care they need.

“When I think about this current attack on women’s reproductive rights, this is going to significantly impact Black maternal health, and it’s going to increase Black maternal mortality,” explained Minor-Brown. “So we have to do everything that we can do to make sure that we’re supporting our moms, throughout their pregnancies and post-partum.”

Delaware ranks 28th in the nation for infant mortality, with the Black infant mortality rate at 3 times higher than white infant mortality

Lt Gov. Bethany Hall-Long says those numbers create an urgency to deliver legislation like this.

“Infant mortality is the number one indicator of a community and a population’s health,” said Hall-Long. “We have to continue to put the pedal to the metal, which we’ve done in this state, and in particular around equity and justice.”

One bill places responsibility for development of bias and competency training for healthcare workers in a subcommittee of the Delaware Perinatal Quality Collaborative, which will create training guidelines for use in all healthcare fields.

Another renamed the “Child Death Review Commission” to the “Child and Maternal Death Review Commission,”reflecting an increased focus on maternal morbidity and mortality, as well as racial disparities. The Commission will also be required to hold at least one annual meeting jointly with the Delaware Perinatal Quality Collaborative to discuss findings and present recommendations.

Two bills focus on reproductive health for incarcerated women. One prohibits the use of restraintson women in their 2nd and 3rd trimester, and in the 13-week immediate postpartum period. The other provides access to doula and midwifery servicesfor pregnant women and up to 6-week postpartum women in custody in Level IV or V prison facilities

Another two bills expand Medicaid access to include doula services, and extend Medicaid coverage throughout the first year postpartum. The current coverage is 60-days.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021.