Kamala Harris Introduces Maternal CARE Act To Combat Racial Bias In Maternal Healthcare

Currently, the risk of death from pregnancy-related causes is three to four times higher for Black women than white women.

Kamala Harris has become one of the front runners in the Democratic bid for president, and she's making it clear that protecting Black lives is at the center of her platform.

This week, Harris introduced the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE) Act of 2019 with a focus of reducing the maternal mortality rate for Black women. According to data presented in the bill’s announcement, Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. They’re also twice as likely to suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications.

The act will focus on racial bias in America’s healthcare system, according to a press release. “Health equity for Black women can only happen if we recognize and address persistent biases in our health system and do more to ensure women have access to culturally competent, holistic care to reduce preventable maternal mortality,” it reads, in part.

The Maternal CARE Act was first introduced in 2018 and will earmark $25 million to create a program to fight racial bias in maternal health care, allocate $125 million to identify high-risk pregnancies and provide mothers with the culturally competent care and resources they need, and assist medical schools incorporate bias recognition in clinical skills testing by directing the National Academy of Medicine to study and make recommendations.

“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," Sen. Harris said upon announcing the legislation. "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.”

Congresswoman Alma Adams, who launched the Black Maternal Health Caucus along with Rep. Lauren Underwood earlier this year, is also introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives today (May 22).

The Maternal CARE Act has already garnered a wide range of support from a myriad of healthcare organizations, including the American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Black Women Birthing Justice, Center for Reproductive Rights, Every Mother Counts, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, National Birth Equity Collaborative, National Partnership for Women & Families, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

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