Kathryn Garcia, mayoral candidate and former Commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department, pledged to make boosting women’s healthcare rights a key goal if elected to the city’s highest office.
On March 30, across the street from Planned Parenthood in NoHo, Garcia announced her plans to improve both healthcare accessibility and affordability across the five boroughs.
Access to healthcare has been a longstanding issue that’s been long fought on the streets, in hospitals, and on Capitol Hill. In the United States, the rate of mothers who pass away during childbirth has increased to 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births according to a 2017 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are here today for one simple reason: We need to save our mothers. It is time to stop talking about the fact that Black, Latina and indigenous women giving birth right here in New York City die at a higher rate than white women. It is time to stop repeating the statistic that Black women are eight times more likely to die from a pregnancy related complication. These deaths are largely preventable,” Garcia said.
During the morning conference, Garcia pledged that she would work to close the maternal gap, addressing this issue by supporting mothers during the pregnancy and postpartum care, and take a holistic approach to wellness, including elevating the role of midwives and expanding the use of doulas.
“Midwifery is the oldest profession in the world. We need to expand hospital-based midwifery services in public and private facilities and elevate the role of the midwife including by tackling the uneven reimbursement model for midwifery,” Garcia said. “Families deserve a trusting relationship with someone who is invested in them.”
Garcia is calling upon the state to create a jobs pipeline, starting with a SUNY Midwifery scholarship program that would entice students of color to work with vulnerable communities upon graduation. She likewise stated that it’s more than a battle to improve healthcare access, but the issue at hand is also about addressing the inequities and racial disparities that affect a community’s health, which have all been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Support for women and families will be a priority in my administration in a way that has never been the case in New York City, because I will be the first person to hold that office that has delivered a baby. Two, to be exact,” Garcia said. “As a mother, I am committed to supporting families. I have proposed free childcare for our most vulnerable families – so that our support doesn’t end a few months after birth. We must ensure paid family leave. We need to ensure public funding for family planning services and protect federal, state, and local funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood.”