Too Many Moms and Babies are Dying

Randy Friese, Victoria Steele and Pamela Powers Hannley
Randy Friese, Victoria Steele and Pamela Powers Hannley, Democrats from Tucson. They spoke at a recent LD9 Democrats meeting.

“Too many Moms are dying from pregnancy-related causes. Too many babies are dying. Too many babies are born prematurely or with low birth weight. Too many babies are born with birth defects. Too many Moms don’t get adequate prenatal care,” said Tucson State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley.

She spoke at a recent meeting of the LD9 Democrats. “My hunch is that the face of premature birth in Arizona is young, brown and rural.” Her findings are the result of a deep dive into data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Single Moms and their children are most likely to live in poverty.
Single Moms and their children are most likely to live in poverty.

A key source of the problem is that only 6% of Arizonans eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) actually receive the benefits. The program helps pregnant women and families with case for food, shelter, utlities and expenses.

“TANF is not keeping up with poverty,” she said. “In Arizona provides only two years of coverage and then they try to knock you off. Arizona should increase the TANF to a full five years.” 

Maternal Health

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Rep. Kelli Butler (LD28) and I are pulling together a working group on maternal and child health. Our goal — along with other House Democrats — is to hold stakeholder meetings, review other available data, thoroughly assess the state of maternal and child health in Arizona, and craft legislation for 2020.”

“Since the time I spent in Tucson Medical Center’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit with my granddaughter, I have spoken with dozens of people about maternal and child health and access to care, particularly in rural Arizona. Many people — active and retired healthcare professionals, parents, grandparents, lobbyists, nonprofits, and legislators — want to work together to make pregnancy and childbirth in Arizona safer and healthier. Healthy starts equal healthy families.”

Compared to other states, Arizona ranks near the bottom on overall policies related to the health of women and children, according to America’s Health Rankings.

#46 Availability of publicly funded women’s health services
#41 Children with health insurance
#47 Concentrated “disadvantage”
#47 Intimate partner violence

Maternal death in the US increased by 26.6% between 2000-2014. Meanwhile, maternal death is decreasing in other high-income countries in North America and Western Europe. Arizona is #25 with 18.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 (more than 4X California).

In 2016, in Arizona:

  • White Moms were most likely to receive prenatal care in the first trimester.
  • Native American Moms were most likely to get no prenatal care.
  • Native American Moms were least likely to get more than 13 prenatal visits.

More info is available in Hannley’s PowerPower slide presentation Status Of Maternal & Child Health In Arizona.