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‘UnPHILtered’: Improving maternal, child health care in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the Indiana General Assembly debates changes to the state’s abortion laws, abortion-rights advocates are worried that more restrictions could lead to more maternal deaths in the state.

The most recent data from the Indiana State Department of Health shows that Indiana’s average maternal mortality rate is more than twice the rate in the United States. State health department data shows that around 52 deaths occurred per 100,000 births from 2015-2019. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most-recent national average was nearly 24 deaths per 100,000 births.

A maternal death, as defined by the World Health Organization, is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accident or incidental causes.

Data also shows that women of color were three times more likely to die during child birth compared to white women.

Dr. Jack Turman, a faculty member at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and the director of the Grassroots Maternal and Child Health Initiative, joined News 8’s Phil Sanchez on Thursday on “UnPHILtered” to talk about the reasons Indiana is lagging behind the rest of the country. 

“It’s really important to remember that we can’t just look at medical causes of birth outcomes, we have to look at the social and economic factors that lead to poor birth outcomes in our state and across the country,” Turman said. “So, it’s important to address those root causes to improve birth outcomes.”

The doctor fears the state’s maternal mortality rate could increase if the Indiana Senate’s abortion bill is passed in its current form.

To watch the full interview, click on the video above.