The fight to end Black maternal mortality continues to be an enduring battle. But in California, lawmakers are taking steps to make sure Black women come out the victor. This week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that aims to decrease the disproportionately high rates of African American women losing their lives to childbirth.
Authored by California State Senator Holly Mitchell, SB 464 – “California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act” makes it mandatory for healthcare providers to obtain implicit bias training if they are serving pregnant women. The bill received backing from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Black Women for Wellness, along with other groups who are committed to seeing Black women receive adequate care and treatment both before, during, and after pregnancy.
In a quote shared on twitter, Mitchell said, “Black women deserve better. Bias, implicit or explicit, should no longer impact a woman’s ability to deliver a full-term baby or to survive childbirth.”
As it stands, the U.S. leads the developed world in the number of pregnancy-related deaths. Black women compromise a large portion of those casualties, presenting a risk of mortality that is three to four times that of White women. It’s the reason Mitchell is challenging Black women to ask their obstetrician a very important question before making a selection: “Have you gone through implicit bias training?” She believes the question could save lives.
The troubling disparities have also moved several 2020 Democratic candidates to create proposals aimed at solving the problem. In an op-ed by Democratic frontrunner Elizabeth Warren, she calls the devastating reality a “crisis,” adding that ”for Black moms, particularly those living in rural areas, it’s an epidemic.”
Lawmakers In The Golden State, where they claim the lowest maternal mortality rate in the country, are hoping that with the newly enacted law, the crisis takes a turn for the better.