‘Momnibus Act’: New California law aims to reduce deaths among Black moms


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Governor Newsom has signed a law meant to help improve the survival rates for mothers and newborn babies, and particularly for Black and Indigenous families.

The California Momnibus Act supports the research looking into pregnancy-related deaths and improves data collection in the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review process, among other actions.

“Every individual deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth, and this bill will help make this a reality for more California families,” said Newsom in a press release. “It is unacceptable that the maternal and infant mortality rate among Black and Indigenous communities remains significantly higher than the state average. California is committed to tackling discrimination and disparity whenever and wherever it occurs and with today’s signing, we’re doubling down on our commitment to both reproductive and racial justice.”

State Bill 65 was first introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner, who represents parts of the East Bay.

“Despite our medical advances, more U.S. babies and mothers die during birth than in all other high-income countries, and these preventable deaths are disproportionately higher for Black families,” Skinner said in a press release.

Watch the legislation signing below:

More research and outreach has already improved the state’s maternal mortality. According to the  California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, the state’s maternal mortality declined significantly since the organization’s inception in 2006, while the national maternal mortality continued rising.

Even so, their official report said racial and ethnic disparities appeared to be worsening from 2008-2016. And there were factors beyond race and ethnicity that were also noted in contributing to maternal mortality.

The findings, published last month, “reveal a need for the thorough examination of how systems and community-level characteristics interplay with patient, provider and facility-level factors in contributing to pregnancy-related mortality and related disparities,” the report said.

Along with reinforcing the need for continued research by the California Department of Health, the Momnibus Act will establish a fund for midwife training programs that prioritize admitting underrepresented groups and those from underserved communities. It also clarifies that pregnant people are exempt from CalWORKs welfare-to-work requirements, according to the Office of Nancy Skinner.

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