Starting next year, the City of San Francisco will offer a $1,000 monthly stipend to some pregnant Black and Pacific Islander women in an effort to combat racial inequalities in wealth and prenatal care. Mayor London Breed announced the new program — called The Abundant Birth Project — in a press conference on Monday (Sept. 21).
“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,” she said.
In partnership with Expecting Justice, The Abundant Birth Project will provide $1,000 in cash without condition to 150 pregnant Black and Pacific Islander women. The stipend will continue during the women’s pregnancies and six months after their babies are born.
“The Abundant Birth Project is rooted in racial justice and recognizes that Black and Pacific Islander mothers suffer disparate health impacts, in part because of the persistent wealth and income gap,” Mayor Breed added. “Thanks to the work of the many partners involved, we are taking real action to end these disparities and are empowering mothers with the resources they need to have healthy pregnancies and births.”
According to the Atlanta Black Star, Black infants born between 2012 and 2016 in the Californian city were almost twice as likely as white babies to be born premature. Additionally, the average Black household’s income in San Francisco is reportedly $30,000, compared to the city-wide median of $104,000.
Expecting Justice, a San Francisco Department of Public Health Department initiative, will also study the affect of the stipend on the participating mothers’ and babies’ health.
“It is exciting to be in a city that not only calls out racism as a problem, but also takes steps to heal the wounds left by decades of injustice and anti-Black sentiment,” Dr. Zea Malawa — who will lead the study — said.
While the problem of unequal prenatal care for pregnant Black women has been highlighted due to the pandemic, Black mothers’ alarmingly high mortality rates have persisted as a nationwide issue. Across the country, Black women are reportedly three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth and account for half of all maternal deaths in the U.S.
“Structural racism, which has left Black and Pacific Islander communities particularly exposed to COVID-19, also threatens the lives of Black and PI mothers and babies,” Malawa added.
According to a press release, the goal of The Abundant Birth Project is to eventually offer Black and Pacific Islander women a stipend for two years after having their children. The program is reportedly being funded by the San Fransisco Health Department, the Hellman foundation and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.