Sen. Kamala Harris announced Wednesday that she is reintroducing a maternal mortality bill to take on the racial disparities associated with pregnancy-related deaths.
According to a Center for Disease Control study released earlier this month, approximately 700 women die from pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. each year. That same study says black women are 3.3 times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy-related causes.
Harris' Maternal CARE ACT would create two new grant programs to address racial health disparities. The first is a $25 million dollar program that would "support evidence-based implicit training" to combat racial bias within the medical profession. The bill also sets aside $125 million to "identify high-risk pregnancies" and "provide new mothers with the culturally competent care and resources they need."
"Black mothers across the country are facing a health crisis that is driven in part by implicit bias in our health care system. We must take action to address this issue, and we must do it with the sense of urgency it deserves," said Harris. "My Maternal CARE Act will establish implicit bias training throughout the medical profession and help ensure that women—especially Black women—have access to comprehensive, culturally competent care."
Artist Beyoncé and professional tennis player Serena Williams shined a light on the issue when they both shared their potentially fatal pregnancy experiences in a 2018 Vogue Magazine issue.
Beyoncé revealed she had been bedridden for a month before delivering twins Rumi and Sir by emergency Caesarean section. This was due to Preeclampsia, a complication characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage. It can lead to serious, even fatal complications for both the mother and child, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Serena Williams told fans that she almost died after delivering by emergency Caesarean section. Williams, who has a medical history of blood clots, wrote an opinion piece in which she said she had suffered symptoms of pulmonary embolism post-pregnancy.
Three in five pregnancy-related deaths were preventable, according to CDC. The CDC also said "preventability" did not differ significantly by race or ethnicity.
Harris first introduced the Maternal CARE Act in 2018. On Wednesday, Democratic North Carolina Rep. Alma Adams will introduce the legislation in the House of Representatives.