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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers are planning to discuss maternal mortality during summer study committee meetings this year.

A few years ago, lawmakers created the Maternal Mortality Review Committee in response to Indiana’s higher rate of maternal mortality. 

“Indiana is the third worst state in the country for maternal mortality,” said State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis), who requested the issue be examined during summer study committee meetings.

Indiana’s definition of maternal mortality includes deaths of women who were pregnant, in childbirth or postpartum up to one year.

“Dying from being pregnant is not something that should be happening in 2022,” Summers said.

Earlier this year, Summers worked on a new bipartisan law expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to one year after the end of pregnancy. But she wants to see lawmakers do more.

“It would behoove us to look at midwifery again and look at doula services for people,” State Rep. Summers said.

According to Summers, who works with the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, women of color are at higher risk.

That’s also a big concern of doctors.

“Certainly access to medical care … is a big driver,” said Dr. Caroline Rouse, an assistant professor of OBGYN and a maternal fetal medicine physician at IU Health.

Dr. Rouse points out overdoses are the leading cause of maternal deaths in Indiana. She and other doctors emphasize the importance of both physical and mental health care to their patients, she said.

“And I would strongly encourage pregnant people and their families to be in tune to their bodies, to listen to their bodies and to advocate for themselves if they feel as though something might be wrong,” Dr. Rouse said.

Meetings at the Statehouse on this issue will take place later this summer.