About 700 women in the United States die every year from pregnancy complications, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Black mothers are dying at a rate nearly four times higher than white women. To combat this, California Senator Kamala Harris has introduced the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE) Act to reduce the racial divide in mortality. 

“Health equity for black women can only happen if we recognize and address persistent biases in our health system,” Senator Harris said in a statement. “This bill is a step toward ensuring that all women have access to culturally competent, holistic care, and to address the implicit biases in our system.”

Backed by 13 other Democrats, Harris’ bill aims to provide $30 million in funding to two new grant-driven programs dedicated to eradicating racial health disparities. The first will go toward the Implicit Bias Training Grant. The second is the Pregnancy Medical Home Demonstration Project, which will affect up to 10 states and strive to improve prenatal care through pregnancy medical home programs.

“The bill will focus on training in medical schools, which I think is important because that’s where we start off in our training and we don’t talk about race in our medical training,” Physicians for Reproductive Health Fellow Dr. Aisha Wager told Mic. “I would love it is that eventually turned into curriculum instead of just a training.”

While it remains unknown why black mothers experience a higher death rate due to pregnancy complications, Mother Jones reports stress induced by racism may be a contributing factor

Harris introduced a resolution in April to designate April 11-17 as Black Maternal Health Week and refuses to shy away from black women’s health issues on the Senate floor. 

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