High death rates for Black women during childbirth and pregnancy are leading California to call for new protections

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Monday, October 30, 2023, 10:16 p.m

California officials are pushing to protect Black women's health during pregnancy

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — California lawmakers and health advocates have made efforts to address the reality that Black women have the highest maternal mortality rates.

“I stood alongside a coalition of lawyers, medical professionals and Black women who had worked for years to pass meaningful legislation to save lives,” said Los Angeles County Executive Holly Mitchell.

In 2019, Mitchell, then a state senator, authored a California law requiring all perinatal health care providers to complete training to combat implicit bias. It came into force in 2020.

“Unfortunately, we have learned that there is still work to be done to ensure compliance,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

The California Department of Justice conducted one Opinion poll from 242 hospitals. First, it was found that in August 2021, less than 17% had started training and by July 2022, 81% had completed the required training.

“This report represents more than just data. It is a testament to our shared commitment to combat prejudice and bias,” said Gabrielle Brown, program coordinator for the Maternal and Child Health Program at Black Women for Wellness, California Dignity’s primary maternity sponsor – and Birth Act (SB 464.)

“This is why we have such devastating outcomes for black birthing mothers compared to their white counterparts,” Dr. Akilah Weber (Democrat from La Mesa), a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist.

“In the hospital, I have seen how implicit bias results in one patient being treated differently than another, and the only significant difference between these patients is the color of their skin,” Weber added.

Bonta said he is working with the state legislature to ensure compliance, including setting firm deadlines and clear enforcement mechanisms.

“We need consequences for non-compliant hospitals and facilities,” Bonta said.

“It’s the beginning, but not the finale. It is the bare minimum of what healthcare providers and facilities need to do to combat implicit bias,” Weber said.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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