Health Advice



To close racial gap in maternal health, some states take aim at 'implicit bias'

Nada Hassanein, on

Published in Health & Fitness

In Missouri, a bill introduced in 2022 died in committee. State Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, a Democrat, reintroduced it this year. And in Georgia, lawmakers reintroduced this session a bill that would mandate implicit bias training for health care professionals in childbirth settings. Both of the reintroduced bills remain in committee.

Dr. Lethenia “Joy” Baker, an obstetrician and gynecologist in rural Georgia, often sees Black patients who specifically sought her out.

“[They] say, ‘I chose you, because you were the one Black woman in town, and I just feel more comfortable,’” she said. “We have to think about the fact that there’s such a lack of diversity in medicine,” making training for everyone important.

“We really need to unpack about the legacy of Southern slaves, and how we begin to move past that. So, I think that legislation is important around this topic, because let’s just face it, that legacy is very painful,” she said.

In South Carolina, Democratic state Rep. JA Moore and other Democrats have introduced implicit bias bills twice since 2020, but neither has passed. Moore said he plans to propose it again.


“I will continue to fight like hell,” Moore told Stateline, saying his aim is to address some of the “challenges so many women have, specifically minority women, low-income women have, in the state of South Carolina.”

South Carolina Black women were more than four times as likely as white women to die of maternal health complications in 2020, according to the state’s latest report. The state’s Morbidity and Mortality Review Committee found that discrimination contributed to more than a third of deaths from 2018 to 2020.

“This is just another way in which we can try to change those numbers,” Moore said. “[It’s] an opportunity to lead a dramatic change in these very horrific, disproportionately racialized health outcomes for so many citizens.”

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