- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A bill to determine why so many Idaho women die while pregnant or from childbirth-related complications is headed to the governor’s desk.

The legislation to create a panel of doctors and medical professionals to study maternal deaths passed the Senate easily on Tuesday, The Post Register reported .

Idaho’s maternal death rate is slightly higher than the national average at about 27 per 100,000 births. The United States’ maternal mortality rate of roughly 26 deaths per 100,000 births is more than three times higher than many European countries, and most states have created review panels similar to the one proposed in Idaho.

“Some people say the number of maternal deaths in Idaho is statistically insignificant,” said sponsor Sen. Mary Souza, a Republican from Coeur d’Alene. “Well, senators, I came very close to being one of those statistics. And I’m sure the husbands and families of the moms who are dying don’t think they’re insignificant.”

If Gov. Brad Little signs the bill into law, the panel will be expected to gather data about maternal deaths that occur during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth, and then making recommendations about how to reduce such deaths. The legislation has a sunset clause that will automatically dissolve the panel in 2023 unless lawmakers renew it.

The effort will cost $27,000 over four years, paid for with a federal grant.

Just three senators voted against the bill and 30 voted in favor. That was dramatically more support than the bill saw in the House, where it passed by just one vote.

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