Calif. Black Caucus, Attorney Gen. Rob Bonta Back Bill to Address Maternal Mortality

Tanu Henry and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media

On Feb. 12, Attorney Gen. Rob Bonta joined members of the California Legislative Black Caucus in Sacramento to announce they are backing a bill written to address the high maternal mortality rate among Black women.

The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 2319 – aims to ensure the successful implementation of SB 464, or the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act of 2019 (Act).

This act which took effect in 2020, mandates that all physicians in the state undergo implicit bias training every two years and requires hospitals to inform patients about their rights.

If the Legislature votes to approve it and Gov. Newsom signs it into law, AB 2319 will “provide clarity” on who qualifies to offer anti-bias trainings; designate state authorities to implement and enforce accountability measure; improve equity and inclusion; increase transparency around implementation; establish penalties for violators; among other provisions.

“It is a tragic reality that race continues to be a factor in maternal health and infant mortality rates not just in California, but across this country,” said Bonta.

“Together, we have made so much progress, and we must continue to address healthcare bias head-on. Today’s legislation does just that; it is designed to make transformational change in a system that has historically failed our mothers and babies, especially those of color,” Bonta added.

In California, every year, Black women account for about 5% of pregnant women but make up an estimated 21% of pregnancy-related deaths, according to the California Department of Justice.

Assemblymembers Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) Chair of the CLBC: Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), chair of the Assembly Health Committee; Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley); and Mike Gipson (D-Carson) attended the news briefing at the State Capitol about AB 2319.

“As a Black Mother and as Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, the fight to improve these outcomes is personal to me “I look forward to collaborating with our Attorney General Rob Bonta, Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber, and other stakeholders to push this accountability measure across the finish line as we seek to make strides in improving Black maternal health outcomes throughout California,” said Wilson.

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