For Immediate Release: September 11, 2019
SACRAMENTO, CA—In a sweeping victory for reproductive freedom and justice, the California State Legislature has voted unanimously to send the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (SB 464, Mitchell), a bill that will save lives by addressing bias in reproductive health care and reducing California’s high rates of pregnancy-related deaths among Black women, to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for signing. Gov. Newsom is a proven champion for reproductive freedom and is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

“Advocates across the state have made our voices heard: We refuse to sit idly by while America’s rates of pregnancy-related deaths, especially among Black women, continue to soar,” said NARAL Pro-Choice California Director Shannon Hovis. “Pregnancy can be life-threatening and having equal access to high quality care for a safe and dignified pregnancy is not a luxury—it is a fundamental human right. California’s leadership in protecting and expanding equity in reproductive health care has never been more important, and this bill will be a pioneer for the nation when signed.”

Over the last fifteen years, California has made great strides to become the state with the lowest maternal mortality rates in the country. However, Black women in California continue to die in pregnancy-related deaths at a rate 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. Evidence points to bias in health care as one cause of this disparity. SB 464 addresses this problem head on by requiring that all perinatal healthcare providers participate in evidence-based implicit bias training and improving California data collection to better understand pregnancy-related deaths.

NARAL Pro-Choice California joins ACT for Women and Girls, Black Women for Wellness, the California Nurse-Midwives Association, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty as sponsors of SB 464. This year, NARAL members and pro-choice activists worked tirelessly for its passage, through lobby days, phone calls, tabling, and gathering petition signatures. In May, 60 NARAL members traveled to the Capitol to voice their support for critical pieces of legislation to advance reproductive freedom, which included SB 464, SB 24 to expand abortion care at California’s public university health centers, and SB 135 to expand access to paid family leave.

NARAL Pro-Choice California has paved the way for progressive, proactive campaigns and legislation that raise the bar for reproductive freedom and abortion access and level the playing field for women and families in all 50 states. NARAL will continue to fight to ensure reproductive freedom is a reality for everyone in California and across the country.

NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all. For more than 50 years, NARAL has worked 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. Since 1969, NARAL has made history, grown to over 2.3 million members, and met the moments that have defined this fight with action, power and freedom.  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.”
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