Indiana Rep. Rita Fleming to propose maternal mortality legislation

Maternal mortality has long been a top-of-mind issue for Rep. Rita Fleming, a retired obstetrician first elected to the Indiana General Assembly in 2018. But when the Jeffersonville Democrat read “Joy in Jeopardy,” the IndyStar series on maternal mortality that published earlier this month, she grew even more certain that the legislature needs to act – soon.    

“I just think it’s more urgent than ever,” she said.        

This legislative session Fleming plans to propose a bill along the lines of one passed four years ago in Ohio. That law requires hospitals to ensure that women who have just given birth are offered the option of long-term contraception before they leave the hospital.

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Studies have shown that women who become pregnant again within a year after delivering a child have a higher risk of a poor outcome, said Fleming, who has proposed similar legislation in past years but the bill has never received a committee hearing. Bills proposed by a Democrat without a Republican co-sponsor are rarely passed and signed into law in Indiana because Republicans have a supermajority and control the legislative process.