This week Senator Holly J. Mitchell participated in an online campaign to raise awareness for the third annual national Black Maternal Health Week (BMHW), founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. The goal of the campaign is to deepen the national conversation about Black maternal health in the US and find solutions to create change.
“Black women deserve better,” Senator Holly J. Mitchell, “The Black maternal mortality rate is 4-times higher of other racial groups.”
Black women in the US are more likely to die in childbirth. Although California’s rate of maternal mortality has decreased since 2006, 700 women still die each year from childbirth, according to the CDC. Of those who die in labor, 21% are Black women even though they only make up 5% of the childbirth cohort.
In her efforts to change these statistics, Senator Mitchell authored SB 464- “California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act,” which became law January 2020. This law questions the disproportionate amount of Black women who die giving birth or due to pregnancy related causes and requires evidence-based implicit bias training to all healthcare providers involved in perinatal services. The goal is to expose the explicit and implicit bias Black women face in regards to prenatal care, no matter their socioeconomic status.
“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,'” said Senator Mitchell.
Unlike with other health disparities, nothing can explain the gap seen in Black maternal mortality; the evidence is pointing to racism. A 2016 study by University of Virginia researchers found that white medical students believed biological myths about racial differences in patients, including that Black patients have less sensitive nerve endings, can tolerate more pain and have thicker skin than their white counterparts.
For more information or statistics follow Senator Mitchell on Twitter: @SENHJMitchell