“Ignorance and racism have bred a culture that is killing women and children.”
In response to the alarming trend of rising maternal mortality rates, State Senator Jacqueline Collins oversaw the passage recently of the first two components of a wide-ranging legislative plan to improve pregnancy and postpartum care for Illinois mothers.
“As grim as the outlook for all mothers in our country looks today, it is even worse for women of color,” Collins said as the Illinois Senate passed two of the legislative package’s bills. “A woman is never second-guessed as often as during motherhood, and yet this concern seems chiefly to have resulted in an environment where women are not believed, their wishes not respected, and their wellbeing not prioritized. This legislation’s aim is to give women power over their own care and to create a data-driven plan to provide women of color in particular the meaningful support before, during and after pregnancy that they are being denied.”
To address an infant mortality rate among children of women of color that is twice that of white women, House Bill 1 creates a Task Force on Infant and Maternal Mortality among African Americans. Studies have found that, even accounting for socioeconomic class and level of education, a Black woman is more likely to lose her child than a white woman. Collins said the task force’s aim will be to seek concrete legislative solutions on how hospital and medical procedures can be changed to combat this lethal trend.
“Ignorance of a mother’s concerns and structural racism have bred a culture that is killing women and children, and it is falling hardest on families of color,” Collins said.
House Bill 2, which also passed, adds a host of maternal rights under the Medical Patient Rights Act, commonly called the Patient’s Bill of Rights. Among them, the legislation calls for the right to care before, during and after childbirth; the right to choose a midwife or physician in a setting of her choosing; the right to full and clear information on the benefits, risks and costs of treatment and medication; the right to accept or refuse treatment or procedures and to have her wishes honored; the right to hold her child after birth if there is no immediate medical emergency; and the right to respect and sensitivity from her medical professionals, among others.
Other measures related to the plan to fight maternal and infant mortality await a vote in the Senate. House Bill 1 awaits the Governor’s signature to become law, while House Bill 2 awaits a concurrence vote in the House.