Tallahassee, FL

Systemic Racism Kills Pregnant Women, Lawmakers Finally Step Up

Malinda Fusco

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Did you know that black women are two to three times more likely to die from childbirth issues than white women? The reason is not the skin color, obviously, but rather disparities in our health care system. The system is not working. Florida lawmakers have finally addressed this in a new bill, HB 1381, which works to further the "Closing the Gap" initiative.

This article takes a look at the recently passed Florida legislature, and the impact it has on women across the state.

"Closing the Gap"

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The bill, HB 1381, works hand-in-hand with Florida's Closing the Gap grant. Closing the Gap is a funding program by the Florida Department of Health. According to their website, they are focused on closing the gap between ethnic and racial disparities.

The state-funded program, Reducing Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities "Closing the Gap" (CTG) grant, section 381.7356, Florida Statutes, supports communities, faith-based, and other organizations to eliminate health disparities

The grant works to help fund the community and programs within the community to help provide better healthcare for minority groups within the state. Right now, the gap is wide. As stated earlier, minority women are two to three times more likely to die from preventable childbirth complications and that is not acceptable.

Thankfully, lawmakers passed a bill to address this very issue.

The Bill: HB 1381

HB 1381 aims to establish more maternal health options and improvements for women in Duval and Orange county. These programs would focus on providing three key things to maternal healthcare.

  1. Telehealth services
  2. Prenatal home-visits
  3. More education for healthcare professionals

The bill will add programs that focus on these three key areas to the "Closing the Gap" funding, which will help get those services to the women and areas most in need, but especially in Duval and Orange county.

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Screenshot of Duval County from Google Maps

On April 21st, 2021, the Florida House and Senate passed the bill. It was sent to Governor DeSantis, where it waits to be signed. Once the bill is signed, it should become active as early as July 1st, 2021, in just a few short months.

What does this mean for women in minority groups moving forward?

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This bill is monumental for the healthcare of minority women in Duval and Orange county. It will provide better services for these women, and better education for the healthcare professionals. It is the lawmakers' hope that this will "close the gap" and save many lives from preventable deaths. This is a huge win for both women and minority groups across the state.

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