Senate committee advances Kirchhofer’s bill addressing Indiana’s infant mortality rate

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Wednesday, March 20, 2019

STATEHOUSE (March 20, 2019) – The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee voted in support of State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer’s (R-Beech Grove) legislation helping expectant mothers and newborns. 

According to Kirchhofer, Indiana has the seventh-highest infant mortality rate in the nation, which she said could be attributed to the state’s opioid epidemic. Under her proposal, medical providers would check for signs of substance abuse in pregnant women through a consultation, referring them to treatment programs as early as possible. 

“Oftentimes, women are more motivated to kick dangerous habits like consuming alcohol or taking drugs when they become pregnant,” said Kirchhofer, chair of the House Public Health Committee. “The sooner we can connect expectant mothers suffering from addiction to treatment, the better our chances are at preventing babies being born with fetal alcohol syndrome or dying from SIDS.”

Kirchhofer said access to prenatal care is also critical to keeping mothers and babies healthy. More than a third of Indiana counties do not have a hospital, or the local hospital does not offer pregnancy and child birthing services. Her legislation would establish a perinatal navigator pilot program, which would provide referrals for wrap-around services and home-visit programs in the 13 highest-risk counties, including Marion.

“By taking steps to address substance abuse and provide vital services to mothers, we can help ensure more Hoosier babies live to see their first birthday,” Kirchhofer said. 

Kirchhofer worked with Gov. Eric Holcomb on legislation to help engage more at-risk expectant mothers in early prenatal care.

House Bill 1007 can now be considered further by the Senate. Visit iga.in.gov to learn more.   

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State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) represents House District 89,

which includes portions of Marion County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.