Sen. Kamala Harris Reintroduces Bill Targeting Racial Bias In Maternal Health Care

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is once again pushing a bill focused on combatting the racial bias and racial disparities that many Black women face when it comes to maternal health.

The Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE) Act, first introduced in 2018, will be brought to the Senate by the 2020 Presidential candidate on Wednesday, this time with the backing of a House bill mirroring the legislation that will be introduced by Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC).

The legislation seeks to take on racial disparities in maternal health by investing some $150 million in various “game-changing” investments.

The bill seeks to create a new $25 million program, specifically to fight racial bias in maternal health care. This money will go to medical schools, nursing schools, and other health professional training programs in order to support evidence-based implicit bias training in the hopes of improving care for Black women.

Another $125 will be allocated to identify high-risk pregnancies and help mothers secure the culturally competent care and resources they need.

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Black women in this country are still 3 to 4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their white counterparts. In a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, published earlier this month, between 2011 and 2015, the ratio of pregnancy-related deaths for white women was 13 for every 100,000 live births. That ratio spiked to 42.8 for Black women.

“Black mothers across the country are facing a health crisis that is driven in part by implicit bias in our health care system,” Sen. Harris said in a statement. “We must take action to address this issue, and we must do it with the sense of urgency it deserves. My Maternal CARE Act will establish implicit bias training throughout the medical profession and help ensure that women—especially Black women—have access to comprehensive, culturally competent care.”

Rep. Adams, who is also the founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Crisis echoed, “We cannot address the Black maternal health crisis facing this country until we address racial disparities in healthcare. The Maternal CARE Act will confront the persistent biases in our health system to ensure Black women have equal access to the quality pre – and post-natal care they deserve.”

The bill is supported by several professional and activist organizations including, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Black Women Birthing Justice, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Center for Reproductive Rights, National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America