For the first time in my life, I recently had the chance to closely watch as a law was made. When Governor Kasich signed Senate Bill 332, it was the culmination of years of hard work to bring comprehensive infant mortality reduction legislation to the state of Ohio. That work began with the leadership of State Senator Shannon Jones and Senator Charleta Tavares out of Columbus, continued with the diverse support of many Cincinnatians, a show of truly collaborative support that should make us proud of our community.

I volunteered to be a part of the process because I am the proud mother of a little boy, who unfortunately did not live to see his first birthday. Christopher Jones, Jr passed away at 10 days of age due to an extremely rare genetic defect that my husband and I were unaware of until after he died. It was for my son that I spoke up to help this law get passed.

Jones Family 1 Resized     Jones Family 2 Resized

Although nothing could have been done to save our child’s life, I know what the devastating pain of child loss feels like. By testifying on behalf of SB 332, I spoke not only on behalf of myself—but I spoke for many families when I shared my heart’s desire in saying that something must be done to reduce infant mortality in the state of Ohio. In cases where preventative measures can be taken and education can be given, I believe the statistics for infant mortality can and will be changed.

Now, thanks to this new law, every family will get education on the safest way to put their baby to sleep: alone, on their back and in a crib. Moms trying to quit smoking during pregnancy will have new support. Families will find it easier than ever to access the tools they need to plan at least 12 months between their pregnancies to reduce their risk of preterm birth. The use of proven interventions like community health workers and home visitors will be spread across the state. And, the state government will prioritize the issue of infant mortality in new ways that will help us better understand this complex problem.

This was truly a collaborative effort. Our community played a big role. Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram helped draft the original proposals in the bill. Health Care Access Now CEO Judith Warren advocated tirelessly for policy change in Columbus.  And, the entire Advisory Board of Cradle Cincinnati, our local infant mortality partnership, wrote letters of support for the legislation. It was the best kind of law-making: carefully thought through and driven collaboratively by our community. I believe this law will help fewer families experience the grief that my husband and I have. Cincinnati and Ohio should be proud of this effort and success.

Danielle Jones and her husband Chris are the parents of Christopher Jones, who passed away in the Summer of 2015. Danielle is the founder of the Angel Baby Network and a member of the Cradle Cincinnati Advisory Board.

You can read a summary of the law here.