Headlines about a partial government shutdown are eclipsing this good news , but late Friday the president signed an important piece of legislation, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017.

This is so important. This piece of legislation will help save mothers lives and is the first step in changing America’s dire track record on maternal mortality.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world , a problem NPR and ProPublica have reported on extensively.

In other developed countries, the rate of maternal deaths has been going down in the last few decades, but in America, the rates have gone up.

According to the CDC, “about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications” .

Now that federal funding for maternal mortality review committees (which review individual cases of maternal death) has been authorized through the signing of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act , we can find out why American mothers have been dying.

When the act finally made it to the president’s desk earlier this month with bipartisan support and sponsors, the president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Dr. Lisa Hollier, called it “a major step toward eliminating preventable maternal deaths in our country.”

The factors and circumstances around maternal deaths need to be understood so that they can be prevented. That’s why this act is so important.

According to Hollier, “this landmark legislation has been a long-held goal for ACOG and is a crucial step to reversing our country’s rising maternal mortality rate.”

Families who have been devastated by maternal deaths are celebrating via social media this weekend.

Charles Johnson IV is raising his two young sons without their mother, Kira. She died in April 2016 , just one day after her youngest was born during a scheduled c-section.

On an Instagram account dedicated to Kira’s legacy, her family expressed gratitude to the act’s sponsors and supporters.

“Thank you all for being relentless🙏🏾Thank you for believing that mothers and babies deserve better🧡 ,” Kira’s husband wrote.

As Dr. Hollier said earlier this month, “no more pregnant and postpartum women should die from preventable causes.”

Children deserve to grow up with loving mothers, and America needs to find out why kids like Kira’s boys don’t get to.

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