I was honored to have been invited to and attend yesterday’s Lobby Day in support of Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiatives in the New York State budget, specifically the Joyner Bill (A. 3276/S. 1819). The day was sponsored by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (ACOG).

The proposed budget includes money for maternal mortality prevention initiatives, including establishing a maternal mortality review board—to ensure the work can be accomplished, offering implicit bias, training to multidisciplinary providers, expanding access to community health workers to further support mothers and families, and building a data warehouse on maternal health to support quality improvement

In summary- this bill establishes state and New York city maternal mortality review boards and the maternal mortality and morbidity advisory council for the purpose of reviewing maternal deaths and maternal morbidity and developing and disseminating findings, recommendations, and best practices to contribute to the prevention of maternal mortality and morbidity.

Some of the statistics below surprised me and really drive home the necessity of funding the bill.


  • Did you know that about 700 to 900 women die in the U.S. every year from mostly preventable complications related to pregnancy?
  • Did you know that in 2016, New York ranked 30th in maternal deaths out of 50 States?
  • Did you know that in NY, the rate of maternal deaths statewide has risen from 13.2 per 100,000 live births in 2006, to 25 per 100,000 live births in 2016?
  • Did you know that in New York, Black women are 3.4 times more likely to die than White women?
  • Did you now that skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and newborn babies?

I was almost one of those 1 in 700 to 900 women who die from pregnancy related causes each year, so I take this bill very seriously.


I want to thank Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, from the 22nd District, for taking the time to talk with me and the rest of our advocacy group. She really listened to what we had to say and assured us that she was in support of the bill. And she even asked for a photo with me and my books ?

I also want to thank Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright for allowing us to meet with her staff to discuss the bill. Other advocates in the group met with Assemblymembers Pat Fahy, John McDonald, Clyde Vanel, Jo Ann Simon, Jonathan Jacobson, Latrice Walker, Nily Rozic, Angelo Santabarbara, Carmen De La Rosa, Linda Rosenthal, Aravella Simotas and Karines Reyes, as well as Senators Liz Krueger, Robert Jackson, Jen Metzger and Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Some of these meetings were in the offices and some were off the floor pulls, which was a new experience for me.

Women cannot make informed decisions regarding their pregnancies and deliveries if they are not given all of the necessary information to help them make the choice that is best for them. That is why funding for education of both moms and providers is so important. Many providers have not treated women during a high-risk pregnancy and many pregnant moms have no idea that a symptom they are experiencing can be a sign of something dangerous. Spreading awareness through education is key for those reasons. Also, keeping records and tracking data on maternal morbidity is necessary so that we can see what is causing these deaths prevent them. Data collection and analytics also require funding.

Below are some more facts about maternal morbidity in our country-

The five states with the lowest maternal mortality rates are:

The five states with the highest maternal mortality rates are:
New Jersey

No woman in New York (or anywhere) should be afraid to start a family. We need to do better.

New York has a great opportunity to save moms and babies by passing and funding this bill.


I can’t wait to post an update on Speaking for Moms & Babies in a few weeks- and let you know what transpired ? Based on my conversations with the Assemblymembers – I’m feeling pretty positive! Each one I spoke to said that they were supporting the bill.

Stay tuned!