Rep. Joe McGonagle and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature on Tuesday passed legislation aimed at eliminating racial inequities in maternal health.
A Resolve reducing racial inequities in maternal health creates a special legislative commission to make recommendations to address barriers that result in racial inequities, including women of color dying of pregnancy-related causes. The Commission is charged with gathering statewide data on maternal mortality and making recommendations to reduce and eliminate racial barriers to accessing equitable maternal care.
“The Legislature took an important step toward reducing racial inequities in maternal health with this legislation, and I’m proud of the House’s work on how to ensure maternal health equity,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I am grateful to Chair Khan, Representative Miranda and Chair Mahoney for their hard work, and I thank Senate President Spilka for her partnership on this critical issue.”
“Coming from the diverse city of Everett, I understand how important and impactful this bill is for expectant mothers in our community,” said McGonagle. “I’m very proud of the Legislature for committing to protecting these mothers in such an important part of their lives. I’m grateful to Speaker Mariano and Rep. Liz Miranda for pushing this legislation through.”
The commission members include public health experts, physicians, midwives, a doula, and individuals with first-hand experience with health disparities, including a survivor of maternal morbidity. The bill requires that a majority of commission members be from Massachusetts communities most impacted by maternal health inequity, which statistically are Black and brown communities.
The 25-member commission will investigate and report on:
•Best-practices by other states or grass-roots organizations to reduce or eliminate racial inequities in maternal health or severe maternal morbidity, including, among other approaches, culturally competent and affordable doula services;
•Accessibility and affordability of birthing centers, maternal medical homes, and doula care and the diversity and cultural competency of maternal health care providers;
•Barriers to accessing prenatal and postpartum care;
•How historical and current structural, institutional and individual forms of racism affect maternal mortality as well as potential solutions, such as bias training in hospital facilities and birthing centers; and
•Availability of statewide data relating to maternal mortality and morbidity and additional data deemed necessary. The bill is now with the governor