William Alatriste for the New York City Council

Over the past two years, City Limits has been showcasing reporting and advocacy around overlooked issues of maternal health–in particular, the distressing persistence of maternal mortality (when a woman dies during childbirth) and severe maternal morbidity (when a new mom is stricken with devastating aftereffects of pregnancy and childbirth).

On Wednesday, the New York City Council passed a set of bills intended to at least partly address these problems, which, like so many health issues, disproportionately affect low-income women of color.

One new measure, sponsored by Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, would codify some steps the city is already taking to study the problem and mandate reporting on maternal mortality and morbidity. Another, also authored by Rosenthal, requires the city to come up with a plan to increase access to doulas.

Other measures relate to the provision of lactation rooms (Intro 878 by Robert Cornegy, Jr., Intro 879 by Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, and Intro 905 by Councilmember Carlina Rivera). Also passed was a bill introduced by Public Advocate Letitia James to create a study of the feasibility of providing childcare for city employees and another written by Councilmember Mark Treyger to mandate that city facilities provide diapers and wipes.

For some background on these issues, check out:
When New Moms Get Sick, Race—and Hospitals—Matter
CityViews: The Fight Against Maternal Mortality Starts With Listening
CityViews: A Call to Action on Racial Disparities in NYC’s Maternal Health
Video: The Fight Against Severe Maternal Morbidity in Brooklyn

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