Bill H.4818

MA Senate, Bill H. 4818
An Act to Reduce Racial Inequities in Maternal Health

July 14th 2020 – Sign the petition here

Petition introduction by Nneka Hall:

Racial inequities in maternal mortality are staggering, with Black women experiencing mortality rates three times that of White women, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In Massachusetts, Black women are twice as likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications.  These inequities are the result of systemic racism in health care and it is long overdue to address them.

This legislation establishes a commission to research and study racial inequities in maternal health outcomes, including both maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity, and make policy recommendations to reduce these inequities.  A critical, foundational intent of this bill is racial equity and part of what is needed to achieve that is equity in representation on the commission itself, that is to center the voices of Black and Brown communities that have been most impacted by inequities in maternal health outcomes.  In that spirit, the current language of the bill calls out the population specifically affected by this health inequity and provides that a majority of this commission’s membership represent that population – namely, Black and Brown constituents of the Commonwealth.  Requiring that Black and Brown communities represent a majority of seats on the commission makes explicit the intent of the bill, to reduce racial inequities, and it sets a clear benchmark for how achieving that representation can be measured.

Given the growing attention to racial justice, stakeholders and policy makers alike should strive not simply for diversity and inclusion, but to also to be actively anti-racist, a stance which has specific characteristics as it relates to both action and language.  Requiring a majority representation of Black and Brown communities on this commission goes beyond inclusion and is actively anti-racist.