Today the California Assembly Business and Professions Committee voted to advance the Justice and Equity in Maternity Care Act (SB 1237) authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and co-sponsored by NARAL Pro-Choice California, Black Women for Wellness Action Project, California Nurse-Midwives Association, and United Nurses Association of California.

The Justice and Equity in Maternity Care Act will expand access to high-quality pregnancy and birth care, reduce healthcare costs, and improve outcomes for patients by removing California’s outdated physician supervision requirement for Certified Nurse-Midwives and creating instead a structure for team-based care. Despite being a leader on reproductive freedom and healthcare innovation, California is an outlier in access to nurse-midwifery care and is one of only four states that still require physician supervision in order for nurse-midwives to practice.

NARAL Pro-Choice California Director Shannon Hovis issued the following statement:

“NARAL Pro-Choice California applauds the members of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee who voted to advance this critical bill. NARAL is proud to co-sponsor SB 1237, a bill that is essential to addressing our maternity care provider shortage and reducing racial disparities in pregnancy and birth outcomes, which have only been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. 

The requirement this bill seeks to repeal is not only outdated and medically unnecessary, it also creates substantial barriers for pregnant people. Research indicates that physician supervision does not improve maternal or infant health outcomes, but does contribute to reduced access and higher costs for patients, which disproportionately impact BIPOC and people living in rural counties. As one of the last states in the nation to still have this requirement on the books, and as the state with the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation, this bill is long overdue. We look forward to its passage on the Assembly floor.”

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