SB 464 to Curb High Mortality Rate of Black Pregnant Women

Although black women make up five percent of those giving birth in California, they account for 21 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths, according to a 2018 report from the California Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review. Between 1999 and 2003, black women in Los Angeles County were three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than all other women. To address the realities underlined by the mounting evidence documenting the ways in which pregnant black women are subject to implicitly biased treatment by our health care system, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion, authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, to send a five-signature letter of support to State legislators for SB 464, which would require all perinatal health care providers to undergo implicit bias training to curb bias in maternal health.

“Pregnancy can be life-threatening for black women in California, and that is unacceptable for a State with the fifth largest economy in the world. Black maternal deaths in California are three to four times higher than the State average, making California one of the deadliest places for a black woman to have a baby in the industrialized world,” said Supervisor Solis. “We must commit to addressing this inequity in our health care system. Every mother and child, regardless of race, has a human right to high quality perinatal care.”

Black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women in all other racial or ethnic groups, according to the 2018 study by the California Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review. The report also revealed that 41 percent of California pregnancy-related deaths were possibly preventable. Since April is National Minority Health Month, many organizations are trying to increase awareness of the high mortality rate of black pregnant women in the state of California. 

In response to this inequity, State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) have introduced the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act, or SB 464, which will mandate implicit bias training for perinatal health care providers, including physicians, nurses, midwives, and frontline personnel. The bill also requires the collection of data on maternal mortality to be sorted by county, facility, race and ethnicity.

Today’s motion directs the LA County’s Chief Executive Officer to send a five-signature letter to the bill’s author, to State Legislative leadership, the Los Angeles County State delegation, and to Gov. Gavin Newsom to express the County’s strong support of SB 464. The Board motion also directs the LA County’s Department of Public Health (DPH) to develop a plan with strategies that will address the high rate of maternal mortality for black women, and their infants, and to report back their findings in 60 days.