For Immediate Release: May 23, 2019
Yesterday, the California Senate voted unanimously to pass the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (SB 464, Mitchell), to actively fight California’s persistently high rates of maternal mortality among black women. The bill, which requires all perinatal healthcare providers to participate in an implicit bias training designed to curtail the impact of bias on maternal health and improves California data collection to better understand pregnancy-related deaths, will be the first of its kind when signed.
“This vote demonstrates yet again that California truly is the national leader when it comes to reproductive freedom,” said Shannon Hovis, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice California. “While states with among the worst maternal mortality rates in the country pass extreme bans on abortion—only further endangering the lives of pregnant people—California is taking proactive steps to reduce maternal mortality. Take note that none of the states that claim to be “pro-life” are fighting for policies that actually save people’s lives.”
Over the last fifteen years, California has reduced its overall rates of maternal mortality by 55%. However, for women of color and particularly black women, the maternal mortality rate remains 3 to 4 times higher than white women—a disparity that cannot be explained by education, income, prenatal care, or other social determinants of health. A growing body of evidence points to bias as one of the causes of this disparity.
Earlier this month, sixty NARAL California members traveled to the Capitol to lobby their elected officials in support of critical pieces of reproductive healthcare legislation, which included SB 464, SB 24 to expand abortion access to California’s public universities, and SB 135 to expand access to paid family leave. Over the next several months, NARAL will continue to fight for the passage of legislation that makes reproductive freedom a reality for all Californians.
NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.