July 19, 2024

California law created to prevent Black women from dying during childbirth

Black baby in hospital theGrio.com
A nurse holds a newborn baby in maternity hospital. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Thanks to Serena Williams advocacy on the issue of Black women dying during childbirth at disproportionately high rates (as compared to their white peers) has gotten substantial attention. This week California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to address the crisis on a systemic level.

According to the HuffPost, California state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D) has authored legislation that will now require hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the state to implement implicit bias training for all health care providers who are working in perinatal services.

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The bill, which is being championed by NARAL, Black Women for Wellness and other like-minded groups, will also mandate that the state’s health department not only track but also publish additional data around pregnancy-related deaths in order to spread awareness around the issue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Black women are at least three times more likely to pass away from pregnancy-related deaths than white women. To add insult to injury, most pregnancy-related deaths in this country are fully preventable, and could occur up to a year after a woman gives birth.

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READ MORE: Sen. Kamala Harris shines a bright light on the deplorable state of maternal health care for Black women

“Black women do deserve better,” says Sen. Mitchell, who herself is a Black mother. “Bias, implicit or explicit, should no longer impact a woman’s ability to deliver a full-term baby or to survive childbirth.”

“I charge Black women to ask their provider before selecting an obstetrician, ‘Have you gone through implicit bias training? Because I want to increase the likelihood of my survival when delivering this baby,’” she added.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are amongst the lawmakers who have publicly championed the issues surrounding Black maternal mortality.

“The best studies that I’ve seen put it down to just one thing: prejudice,” Warren said at a forum back in April. “Doctors and nurses don’t hear African American women’s medical issues the same way as they hear the same things from white women.”

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