NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Pregnant women will soon have more support and expanded access to resources across New York City, in an effort to address health disparities and make pregnancy safer.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that he is signing seven bills into law aimed at turning the tide on maternal mortality rates among African American women.
"These bills will promote and expand access to maternal health care," Mayor Adams said.
One of the bills establishes a maternal bill of rights and will require the Department of Health and other city agencies to ensure patients who visit with their OB/GYN are educated and understand their right to be free from discrimination.
"Too many of our Black and Latino mothers are dying during childbirth and we are saying enough is enough and with this we want to provide equity and level playing field," Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said.
Leaders emphasize the importance of doulas, people who are trained to offer emotional and physical support to mothers before, during and after pregnancy.
The legislation would require the Department of Health to establish a program to train doulas and provide their services to marginalized neighborhoods at no cost.
"Only 7% of people in New York City have doulas and most don't even know that it's an option," doula Emilie Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez owns Ashe Birthing Services, which is a small group of Black and Brown doulas who are based in the Bronx.
"We know that outcomes are far better when people that are in labor have have that support, and avoid unnecessary interventions," Rodriguez said.
Knowing how to advocate for yourself plays a big role.
"A patient has the right to know all of their options and to feel comfortable making a decision that works for them and works for their family," said OB/GYN and doula Dr. Carla Williams.