BOSTON – Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) joined her colleagues in the House this week to pass a bill aimed at eliminating racial inequities in maternal health. An Act to reduce racial inequities in maternal health will create a special legislative commission to make recommendations that reduce or remove the kind of racial inequities that result in women of color dying of pregnancy-related causes at more than double the rate of white women. The commission will gather information and raise awareness of this systemic societal problem, in addition to reporting on barriers to equitable maternal care and best practices for remedying inequities.

“As the legislature considers issues of racial justice, this focus on maternal health will help lift up women of color, for whom the burdens of racial and gender discrimination have shaped inequities in health care,” said Representative Meschino. “The commission created in this bill will put forward life-saving solutions for all mothers across the Commonwealth.”

The 25-member commission will investigate and report on: 

  • Best-practices by other states or grass-roots organizations to reduce or eliminate racial inequities in maternal health or severe maternal morbidity, including, among other approaches, culturally competent and affordable doula services;
  • Accessibility and affordability of birthing centers, maternal medical homes, and doula care and the diversity and cultural competency of maternal health care providers;
  • Barriers to accessing prenatal and postpartum care;
  • How historical and current structural, institutional and individual forms of racism affect maternal mortality as well as potential solutions, such as bias training in hospital facilities and birthing centers;
  • Available data relating to maternal mortality and morbidity.

The bill now moves to the Senate.