By Maureen P. Corry, MPH

“I don’t need maternity care.” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) lobbed this comment against Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) efforts to guarantee maternity coverage as a basic benefit in health care reform. “Your mom probably did,” Stabenow famously shot back. That exchange and the wave of support that followed for Stabenow’s proposals illustrates how out of step Kyl is with a huge majority of Americans, including those in his own party.

Voters across the political spectrum are almost universal in their support for making maternity care an essential health insurance benefit through health care reform, according to a new poll conducted by Mark Mellman and commissioned by the Communications Consortium Media Center and the Women Donors Network. Fully 86 percent of voters strongly support a guaranteed maternity care benefit, and 95 percent believe that women should have the right to decide when to have a child, where to give birth and the health care provider who will attend their birth.

At Childbirth Connection, a 91-year-old national organization advocating high quality, evidence-based maternity care, we are not surprised by these results. We’ve known for years that rapid gains in the quality, value and cost of maternity care are well within reach. Health care reform is our opportunity to ensure that all women and babies get higher quality care with better results, and savings from following best practices can be put toward providing coverage for all.

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