Editorial: No Longer an Afterthought

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When Southampton resident Sara Topping joined a group of East End women in founding the East End Birth Network, it was a nonprofit founded with urgency and a realization that this is home to communities with some of the highest infant mortality rates in New York State.

The reality is that maternal mortality rates also remain abysmal in the United States when compared to the rest of the developed world and that New York State ranks 30th in the nation when it comes to maternal mortality — a statistic that grows for women who are minorities and especially African American. These statistics are grim and real and until recently seemingly largely ignored.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. co-sponsored a bill that was passed by the State Legislature and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Andrew Cuomo before it becomes a state law. It would establish both the Maternal Mortality Review Board and the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Advisory Council, a body that would be made up of health professionals and experts that represent New York’s diversity. Both groups would study maternal health across the state in an effort to improve health outcomes for mothers and their babies.

Mr. Thiele should be applauded for bringing the legislation forward, as should the East End Birth Network for proving itself a capable advocate for women in this generation and the next.

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