Rep. Matt Rosendale votes against bipartisan bill to reduce maternal mortality - TAI News
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Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 27, 2024. (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on March 5 to pass a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize a program to prevent maternal deaths during and following pregnancy. Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale was one of just a dozen no votes.

The Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess and Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, would renew a federal program to assist states with efforts to boost maternal health during pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum through fiscal year 2028. 

According to a 2021 report by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities research institute, the rate of people in the United States who die of pregnancy-related causes during pregnancy and the 12 months following is higher than in any other developed country and higher than it was 25 years ago.

“While we know that over 80% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, we also understand that even one is too many,” Burgess said in a floor speech, explaining that the law supports 49 states’ maternal mortality review committees to examine the causes of such deaths. “Through their work, this body was able to discover that over 50% of pregnancy-related deaths happened between one week and one year after delivery, leading to the critical extension of the state plan amendment for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program to 12 months for postpartum coverage.”

At least 13 Monantans died from pregnancy-related complications between 2018 and 2021, according to data from the nonpartisan health research organization KFF.

After enactment of the original Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018, the state established the Montana Maternal Mortality Review Committee. It has received about $900,000 in federal grants to support its work since fiscal year 2021.

All 195 Democratic representatives present and 187 Republicans cast votes in favor of the bill. Rosendale and 11 other Republicans voted against it.

Rosendale’s office did not immediately respond to a request for an explanation of his vote. 

In the past, he has been critical of federal spending levels but has also portrayed himself as a staunch defender of life.

“Proverbs 31:8 reminds us to ‘speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute,’” Rosendale tweeted on Jan. 19. “I was proud to join THOUSANDS at the March for Life today! We must work together to ensure life is protected from conception without EXCEPTION!”

In a July 2023 letter to congressional leaders, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, American Heart Association, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, and March of Dimes were among 85 national health organizations to endorse the reauthorization. 

“With our nation’s maternal mortality rate on the rise, we urge you to swiftly pass the Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act,” they wrote. “It is critical that Congress does everything in its power to address the maternal mortality crisis and work towards solutions to prevent future, unnecessary deaths.”

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