A new California law aims to help provide better care for Black women during childbirth.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill Monday, requiring all healthcare providers in perinatal services to go through bias training.
According to Senate Bill 464, the legislation requires healthcare providers to complete basic training and a refresher course every two years or more frequently if necessary.
Black Women for Wellness and other groups sponsored the bill, also requiring California's health department to publish data related to pregnancy-related deaths.
"Existing law requires the Office of Health Equity within the department to serve as a resource for ensuring that programs collect and keep data and information regarding ethnic and racial health statistics, and strategies and programs that address multicultural health issues, including, but not limited to, infant and maternal mortality," the law states.
California State Senator Holly Mitchell, the author of the bill, said in a recent statement that Black women deserve better.
"As a Black mother, Sen. Mitchell authored this bill to expose the explicit and implicit bias Black women face in regards to prenatal care, no matter their socioeconomic status," the statement reads. "Unlike with other health disparities, nothing can explain the gap seen in Black maternal mortality; the evidence is pointing to racism."
Another piece of landmark legislation signed today by Gavin Newsom 🙌🏾 SB 464- "California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act," targets the disproportionately large amount of Black women who die giving birth or due to pregnancy-related causes. This law will require (1/2) pic.twitter.com/GBQQtMzVLh— Senator Holly J. Mitchell (@SenHJMitchell) October 7, 2019
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women have a risk of pregnancy-related deaths that is three to four times higher than that of white women.
Mitchell cited a 2016 study by University of Virginia researchers, which found that white medical students believed biological myths about racial differences in patients.
The white students believed that Black patients have less sensitive nerve endings, can tolerate more pain and have thicker skin than their white counterparts, the study concluded.
"We want to encourage Black women to ask their provider, 'Have you been through implicit bias training because I want to increase the likelihood of my survival of delivering this baby,'" Mitchell said.
NPR launched an investigation in 2017 which found that the U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world.
Still, studies show it's Black women who are affected the most.
"Although California's rate of maternal mortality has decreased since 2006, 700 women still die each year from childbirth, according to the CDC," Mitchell said in her news release. "Of those who die in labor, 21% are Black women even though they only make up 5% of the childbirth cohort."
Mitchell has advocated for other bills on behalf of Black women. In July, the C.R.O.W.N. Act, a bill spearheaded by the senator to prevent discrimination against natural hair, was signed into law.