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New Laws Aim To Address Infant And Maternal Mortality

Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer at the Statehouse.

Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer at the Statehouse. (Photo courtesy of Kirchhofer's office)

A number of measures to address Indiana’s high infant and maternal mortality rates were adopted during the past legislative session. The new laws, which took effect July 1, aim to drive down the rates. 

One new law will create a statewide program to connect mothers with perinatal navigators throughout their pregnancy. 

Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) authored the legislation and says another provision requires providers to verbally screen pregnant mothers about substance abuse and refer them to treatment if needed. 

"Work with them to say ‘Hey you have a problem. Would you like to seek help and can I help you get there?’ and to be compassionate and not punitive," says Kirchhofer. 

Another part of the legislation aims to connect mothers-to-be with a community health worker, or navigator, during their pregnancy.

READ MORE: Program Connects Pregnant Women With Substance Use Disorders With Services

"Make sure that they don’t skip vitamins, don’t skip an appointment, do they need transportation, really look at the high risk moms in the 13 high risk zip codes and let’s move the needle," sasy Kirchhofer. 

Another law allows minors who are at least 16 to make their own health care decisions during and after pregnancy.

And legislation to reimburse doulas, who provide support for pregnant women, through Medicaid also went into effect July 1.

Funding for the measure was stripped from the budget at the end of session, but the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration says the new law will be funded through a new community health worker benefit.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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