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Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation. Here's how the government spending plan can help

"(It's) to make sure that when women are trying to bring a child in this world, they don't have to do so with one foot in the grave," Warnock said.

ATLANTA — Georgia could feel the direct impact of a $1.5 trillion federal spending package approved by Congress Thursday night. In it are funds meant to reduce maternal deaths.

The measure to fund the government has been in the works since September and now awaits President Joe Biden's signature. 

Within the spending plan are efforts that were introduced by Georgia's U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock in a bill last year, meant to improve infant health and reduce the national maternal death rate.

"I've experienced a lot of racial bias as a Black woman concerning my reproductive health," Sherress Hicks with the GA Maternal Fetal Health Alliance said. "I wasn't taken seriously when I knew that there were issues going on in my body and that caused me to have my ovary removed."

Hicks is an example of the health disparity that exists among Black women seeking reproductive care. 

Georgia has also become notorious for its maternal mortality rate with around 66 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is worse than the nation's average of around 24 deaths per 100,000 births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The doctor's walking alongside the bed and he said she'll be back in 15 minutes -- 15 minutes," Charles Johnson said. "That was the last time I saw Kira alive."

Johnson said his wife bled to death after giving birth. According to CDC data, these preventable deaths are happening more often.

CDC data shows Black and minority women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth-related causes.

"Georgia is dead last when it comes to women and their access to healthcare," Warnock said in an exclusive interview with 11Alive's Hope Ford.

Warnock worked alongside U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to introduce the bipartisan bill in an effort to reduce maternal deaths.

"(It's) to make sure that when women are trying to bring a child in this world, they don't have to do so with one foot in the grave," Warnock said.

The bill is now included in the new government spending plan with $45 million dedicated to innovation grants, $25 million meant for healthcare worker training and another $50 million allotted for integrated healthcare services grant.  

"We need to make sure that we've got accurate data on what's going on," Warnock explained. "And so this will help with that. It will center evidence-based approaches to making sure we decrease the amount of maternal mortality in our country."

Outlined in the bill are initiatives targeting racial and ethnic bias training for healthcare providers and a study on best practices to teach health professionals to reduce discrimination.

Warnock praised the bipartisan support, adding that the united effort will create a massive change for families across the country.

"We may disagree on a whole range of other issues with respect to healthcare and productive choice, but this is something we ought to all be able to work on," he said.

The hope is the outcome will be fewer stories of mothers dying from preventable childbirth-related causes -- and more moms surviving to be part of their child's stories.


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