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LANSING — A new legislative effort in the Michigan state Senate aims to raise maternal healthcare standards, particularly addressing the struggles faced by Black women in the medical system.

The package of bills, dubbed the ‘momnibus’ by supporters, seeks to address significant racial disparities in maternal health outcomes.

This legislative package would mandate the state to collect and analyze data on racial disparities in childbirth mortality rates and pre-and post-natal medical care.

The data would be published in a study every three years, providing a comprehensive overview of maternal health across different demographics.

According to the CDC, Black women are three times more likely than white women to die during pregnancy or childbirth, with over 80% of pregnancy-related deaths being preventable. This stark statistic underscores the urgent need for policy change, as highlighted by Sen. Mary Cavanagh, D-Redfield Twp.

“These deaths are avoidable,” she said. “And every life lost due to the inequities of our system is directly reflective of the desperate need for policy change.”

Advocates argue that the health concerns of women of color are often downplayed by medical professionals, resulting in inadequate care.

According to the source, Leseliey Welch of Birth Detroit emphasized the need for “birth justice,” which includes access to holistic, humanistic, and culturally centered healthcare during the childbearing year.

This also encompasses the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy and the conditions under which to give birth.

Some mothers have had such negative experiences while giving birth that they are avoiding further pregnancies to protect their physical and mental health.

Tamika Jackson, an organizer with Mothering Justice, shared her story: “What I experienced was not the experience that we should have when we go in to deliver a baby.

Because of that, I don’t even want to have another child. I have very big distrust in our medical industry.”

Supporters of the legislation argue that the push goes beyond just reducing maternal mortality rates.

The proposals would also require insurance coverage for midwife services, outlaw discrimination based on pregnancy or breastfeeding status, and establish additional reporting mechanisms for possible malpractice.

Leseliey Welch articulated a broader vision for maternal healthcare: “Survival is the least of what we should expect.

We should be creating the optimal birth experiences that we want for ourselves, our partners and spouses, our children and great-grandchildren, and all of our families. How we come into this world matters.”

As lawmakers continue to hear testimony on the package in the coming months, the hope is that these legislative changes will lead to significant improvements in maternal health outcomes, especially for women of color.

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