Senators Scott, Lujan Fight to Combat Skyrocketing Overdose Deaths Among Pregnant and Postpartum Women

WASHINGTON — Today, Senators Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) introduced the Pregnant and Postpartum Women Treatment Reauthorization Act to ensure pregnant and postpartum women across the United States have reliable access to mental health and substance use disorder care. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women, including a state pilot program that directs funding to Mom’s IMProving Access to Perinatal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care Through Telehealth and Telemonitoring (IMPACTT) in South Carolina.

“I’ve spoken at length of the devastating effects and reach of illicitly-trafficked fentanyl in this country, and its deadly impact on new and expecting mothers is yet another reason that seriously addressing this crisis must be our government’s top national security priority,” said Senator Tim Scott. “The harsh but heartbreaking truth is the number of skyrocketing fatalities of pregnant and postpartum women represents far more than mere statistics show – these are children left without mothers and families ripped apart. As we fight to secure our border and curb the flow of illicit drugs into this country, we have an obligation to provide essential resources for these new and expecting moms.”

“Improving the health of pregnant women facing substance use disorders is critical to creating positive outcomes for families and lasting health,” said Senator Luján. “By reauthorizing these critical programs, pregnant and postpartum women with substance use disorders can access the necessary tools to prevent health complications and treat substance use–including recovery and rehabilitation. I’m committed to improving families’ health and safety in New Mexico and across the country.”

A recently released study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed drug overdose deaths among women who were pregnant or postpartum within the previous 12 months skyrocketed from 2018 through 2021. The overdose death rate for pregnant and postpartum women ages 35 to 44 more than tripled during that time period. A similar study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that overdoses due to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were the leading drug type involved in the deaths of pregnant and postpartum women. From 2017 to 2020, synthetic opioids deaths increased from 5.73 per 100,000 to 9.47 per 100,000.

In addition to Senators Scott and Luján, the bill’s original cosponsors include Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Read the full text of the Pregnant and Postpartum Women Treatment Reauthorization Act here.