University News

University of New Haven Professor Producing Documentary For PBS on High Infant, Maternal Mortality Rates in U.S.

An award-winning filmmaker, Prof. Richard Wormser has written, produced, and directed dozens of documentaries that have received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

June 6, 2018

Richard Wormser headshot
Prof. Richard Wormser (Courtesy of Bucknell University / Shayan Asgharnia)

The University of New Haven announced that Richard Wormser, adjunct faculty of forensic science, has received $50,000 in grants from investors to develop a documentary whose working title is "Saving Babies and Mothers."

Wormser, who has made 51 documentaries, including many for the Public Broadcasting Service, will focus this time on infant and maternal mortality rates in the developed world. The documentary is expected to air on PBS next year.

"The story will examine why the United States has one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates in the developed world. While there is a racial difference in the outcomes, the major problem is the lack of prenatal care for low-income women in urban and rural areas." Richard Wormser, adjunct faculty of forensic science

He said birth centers run by midwives have far better outcomes than hospitals, but many communities are unwilling to underwrite them for political and economic reasons.

Wormser was the series producer/writer and co-director of the four-part Peabody Award-winning series, "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow," that received three national Emmy award nominations. The series explored the African American struggle for freedom during the Jim Crow era, a period that many historians consider worse than slavery.

Wormser also wrote, produced, and directed the PBS documentary American Reds that was a finalist for the best documentary script by the Writers Guild of America. The program told the story of the heyday of the American Communist Party when it was the most effective radical group in America despite its willful blindness to the horrors of Stalinism; and the party's virtual destruction during the McCarthy era.