Pence signs bill to try to reduce infant mortality rates

Gov. Mike Pence in 2013 called the state’s infant mortality rate – one of the worst in the nation – “deplorable” and said improving it is a key goal of his administration. Photo by Lesley Weidenbener,

By Alec Gray

Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law on Monday that is designed to lower infant mortality rates in the state.

The new law establishes the Safety Protecting Indiana’s Newborns grant program and has been referred to throughout the session as Safety PIN.

The General Assembly allocated $8 million for the first fiscal year of the program starting July 1 and $5.5 million for the second. In the first year, $2.5 million of the allocation will be to develop a web application that will be used as an outreach program for at-risk mothers.

Pence said in a statement that his administration is committed to lowering the infant mortality rate.

“Currently, on average, seven Hoosier babies for every 1,000 births do not live to see their first birthday, and reducing this rate remains the top priority of the Indiana State Department of Health,” Pence said. “But this is not just about the statistics—this is about reducing the heartbreak of infant mortality for Hoosier families.”

Dr. Jerome Adams, commissioner of the health department said infant mortality has many causes, but there are ways to fight it.

“Local programs that help expectant mothers get prenatal care, understand the importance of safe sleep, encourage and make it easier for new moms to breastfeed, and help expectant mothers to get off drugs, alcohol and tobacco, are absolutely essential if we are going to save babies’ lives,” Adams said.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said lawmakers were pleased to passed the Safety PIN legislation this session.

“The very creative means of leveraging those funds for the private sector and civic groups, health groups to make a difference without a government mandate (saying) that hears how you have to do it,” Bosma said. “We’re very hopeful for that one.”

The program will be administered by the Indiana State Department of Health and will take effect on July 1.

Alec Gray is a reporter for, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.