Watch new 2020 law #11: California takes aim at racial bias in maternal health care

California may be cited as a model state for its efforts to improve outcomes for women giving birth, but black women statewide are still substantially more likely than white women to die in childbirth, give birth prematurely and lose their babies.

Starting in 2020, California is requiring that health care workers who treat pregnant women receive implicit bias training — designed to improve awareness of the impact racial bias has on maternal and infant health.

Authored by Democratic state Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, the law also requires maternal deaths to be registered more consistently on death certificates, mandating that coroners list whether a woman was pregnant at the time of her death or in the previous year.

Doctors raised concerns about how the training will work, given that they contract with hospitals throughout the state and thus do not receive the same oversight or accountability as an employee would.

In 2006, the state adopted a program that brought researchers and doctors together to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants. 

Maternal mortality rates declined by 55% statewide from 2006 to 2013, but black women continued to face worse outcomes.

In this video, CalMatters’ reporting intern Adria Watson breaks down the new law in a minute.

CalMatters is building a video playlist to explain how various new laws will influence the lives of Californians.

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