DENVER (CBS4) – In an age of so many technological advances, moms are still dying during childbirth. In Colorado, the maternal death rate has doubled in recent years.
Adele Marshall’s daughter is among those who’ve died.
“I wish there was a way in these few short minutes to express to you the depth of my families suffering at the loss of our Taryn,” Marshall told state lawmakers as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Taryn Elkins was seven months pregnant and suffered a seizure. Her baby boy died too.
“Taryns death is something my family struggles to understand every day. The questions you’re left with haunt you and make you long for answers.” Lawmakers too want answers.
The state has a commission that reviews deaths in childbirth and within a year after, but it is only able to do so after the medical malpractice statute of limitations expires, which is three years.
“It doesn’t do us any good to know what happened three years ago,” said Rep. Lois Landgraf.
She and Rep. Janet Buckner introduced a bill that would give the commission immediate access to the medical records of moms who die in childbirth or within the first year. The bill protects members of the commission from being subpoenaed on malpractice suits.
“The biggest frustration for me is that 80 percent of these deaths are preventable,” said Buckner. She says the death rate is especially high in rural Colorado and among women of color, but that it transcends race, income and education.
The bill also reimburses the new commission to attract the best participants from across the state. The current commission is volunteer.
Adele Marshall says her daughter’s case still hasn’t been reviewed.
“My family died that day in that hospital when Taryn stopped breathing. Every one of us is forever changed. Not one day goes by that we don’t miss her. Please don’t let this happen to anybody else.”
Lawmakers not only passed the bill out of committee unanimously, many, including Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, fought back tears themselves.
“Taryn will be remembered by all of us and you will have left an indelible mark on all of our souls.”
Forty-one other states and the District of Columbia already have similar laws.