TRENTON – Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) announced today that he will focus in the new legislative session on addressing maternal mortality and infant mortality in New Jersey. This comes in response to reports showing dramatic disparities in health outcomes between African-American women and babies in the state and their white counterparts:
“As one of the wealthiest states in the nation by many standards, New Jersey’s standing with regard to maternal and infant health is unacceptable.
“We must examine how to address the issues that make our state an outlier when it comes to the gap between infant mortality rates for Caucasians and for African Americans, and why women of color are dying, often times from treatable conditions, at a rate that far surpasses that of whites.
“We cannot accept a system that produces poor health outcomes at any level. But when our state is showing drastically disparate outcomes for pregnant women and infants, something is terribly wrong.
“As health committee chairman, these issues will be among my first priorities in the new legislative session. I have introduced legislation with Senator Ruiz to create the Maternal Mortality Review Commission and I am working on legislation with Senator Weinberg aimed at studying infant mortality. The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will hold hearings on these issues early in the new legislative session to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure that women and babies in this state get the care they deserve.”