Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society applauds House passage of An Act to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

Massachusetts Medical Society applauds House passage of An Act to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health

The Massachusetts Medical Society applauds the House’s passage of H.4818, An Act to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health, and commends Reps. Kay Khan and Liz Miranda, as well as Sen. Rebecca Rausch, for their leadership on this critical issue.

Recent events in our country, including the most recent murders of unarmed Black people and ensuing protests to demand racial equity, have brought long overdue attention and desire for action regarding the injustices of systemic racism and inequality which pervade all aspects of our society, including health care. In the wake of these events the medical society reaffirmed our longstanding and policy-backed commitment to eliminating disparities in health care.

The Centers for Disease Control data demonstrate the horrific fact that Black women are three times more likely to die within a year of the end of pregnancy than White women. The disparities are stark and pregnancy-associated mortality has increased in the Commonwealth. These deaths are tragic and unacceptable and this bill offers a long overdue opportunity to right a wrong.

The establishment of a special commission importantly centers the voices of Black and Brown communities most impacted by disparities in maternal health to understand how racism affects maternal mortality. The commission will make substantive recommendations for policies and strategies to eliminate racial disparities and the Medical Society looks forward to advocating for those policies to be enacted. This vital undertaking is a necessary step in remedying a shameful history of racial injustice in health care.

While the racism that has caused these life-threatening disparities in maternal health has perpetuated over generations, our obligation to undo this harm is urgent. Our patients’ lives are on the line and we urge all stakeholders to listen, to act, and to lead by supporting this critical step toward eliminating racial disparities in maternal health. The Medical Society looks forward to working with the legislature to see this important bill passed into law.

-David A. Rosman, MD, MBA, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

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