By Bob Katzen

The Senate 39-0, approved a bill that would create a special commission to examine and make recommendations to reduce or eliminate racial disparities in the death of mothers before, during and after childbirth.

The commission would look for problems and solutions by examining evidence-based practices, including approaches taken by other states or grass-roots organizations to reduce or eliminate racial disparities in maternal mortality or severe maternal morbidity; barriers to accessing prenatal and postpartum care, how that care is delivered and the quality of that care; and how historical and current structural, institutional and individual forms of racism, including implicit bias or discrimination, affect the incidence and prevalence of maternal mortality in communities of color.

Supporters said that among the developed nations of the world, only the United States continues to allow people giving birth to die in increasing numbers, and the outcomes are staggeringly worse for people of color, who experienced a 238 percent increase in the risk of maternal death between 1978 and 2015.

“People giving birth now are more likely to suffer injury, illness, or death than our mothers and grandmothers who delivered in the previous century, and Black and Brown birthing people are more than twice as likely to be forced to endure those heartbreaking harms,” said Sen. Becca Rausch (D-Needham), the original lead sponsor of the bill. “We cannot allow that to stand, nor can we tackle a problem without understanding the full extent of its impact. The maternal health disparities commission we establish today will serve as that meaningful first step in crafting policy solutions to the tangible racial disparities in maternal health outcomes in Massachusetts.

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