CAMDEN — New Jersey’s first lady says she’s launching an initiative to combat the state’s poor maternal mortality rate.

Speaking Wednesday at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, Tammy Murphy said she and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's Cabinet are launching a public awareness campaign to help drive down the number of women who die during or soon after pregnancy.

She says the campaign will also focus on reducing the higher rate of black women dying compared with white mothers.

New Jersey has among the worst rates of maternal mortality, ranking 45th in the nation.

The effort comes as lawmakers in the Democrat-led Legislature advance 14 bills aimed at reducing the maternal mortality rates.