San Francisco Mayor London Breed and health nonprofit, Expecting Justice, have partnered to provide $1,000 monthly stipends to 150 pregnant Black and Pacific Islander women. The Abundant Birth Project was put together with the hopes of curbing high rates of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth. The first 150 participants will receive stipends for the duration of their pregnancy and the first six months of their newborn's life. Participants will be able to use the stipend for a number of things including health expenses, utility bills, groceries and much more.
"Maybe you're struggling with food insecurity this month," Dr. Zea Malawa of Expecting Justice said.
"Or maybe you need to pay your car note. That should be the mothers' decision to make."
Financial stress among pregnant women of color in San Francisco is not uncommon. According to Mayor Breed's office, the median household income among Black and Pacific Islander families is between $30,000 and $67,000. In comparison, the median household income within the city is $104,000.
"Providing guaranteed income support to mothers during pregnancy is an innovative and equitable approach that will ease some of the financial stress that all too often keeps women from being able to put their health first," Breed said.
Breed's office says that the financial stress and structural racism that women of color face can ultimately have an overall negative impact on their health. In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that Black, Native American and Pacific Islander women are also dying at higher rates during pregnancy. The CDC reports that Black, Native American and Pacific Islander women are two to three times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy related issues.
"I think it's important to know that nationally, Black women die in childbirth four times as frequently as White women," Malawa said.
Thus far, The Abundant Health Project has earned $1 million in donations and $200,000 from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Moving forward, the project hopes to move into other parts of the state.
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