|For Immediate Release: October 8, 2019
SACRAMENTO, CA—Yesterday, in a major victory for reproductive freedom and justice, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (SB 464), a NARAL-sponsored 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.
“With anti-choice politicians trying to pass extreme abortion bans across the country, it couldn’t be more clear that our reproductive freedom is in peril,” said NARAL Pro-Choice California Director Shannon Hovis. “But today, our state took a major step in our constant quest to protect reproductive freedom and justice and address the horrifying racial inequities in maternal mortality rates in our state. We’re proud of Gov. Newsom for signing this important bill into law and sending a message that California supports everyone’s right to a full range of high-quality reproductive health care, including bias-free pregnancy care.”
“Black women do deserve better,” says Senator Holly Mitchell (Los Angeles). “And when we recognize that the Black maternal mortality rate in California remains four times that of other ethnic and racial groups regardless of socioeconomic status, that is why SB 464 is essential. Bias, implicit or explicit, should no longer impact a woman’s ability to deliver a full term baby or to survive childbirth. I charge Black women to ask their provider before selecting an obstetrician, “Have you gone through implicit bias training? Because I want to increase the likelihood of my survival when delivering this baby.”
Background on SB 464
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 joined 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 2019, sixty NARAL members traveled to the Capitol to voice their support for critical pieces of reproductive healthcare legislation, which included SB 464, SB 24 to expand abortion care at California’s public universities, 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.