Women’s health matters! The City of San Francisco has implemented a new pilot program named ”Abundant Birth Project,” which aims to fight disparities in health outcomes for pregnant Black and Pacific Island residents. The project focuses on basic income to women during pregnancy and after giving birth. About 150 low-income and middle-income pregnant women will be provided a monthly stipend for $1,000 a month for six months after birth.
Announced last Monday by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the program is in partnership with Expecting Justice, a Black-led birth justice initiative. This is an initiative led by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and will focus on studying the impact of the stipend on health outcomes.
The goal of the program is to eventually provide women with a stipend for a full two years after a baby’s birth. Prematurity continues to be a leading cause of infant deaths and is linked to lifelong health and behavioral conditions, and chronic disease.
“The Abundant Birth Project is exactly the kind of innovative, community-driven social policy solution that the Hellman Collaborative Change Initiative was designed to support,” said Susan Hirsch, Executive Director of the Hellman Foundation. “When we made the first grant to this project a year ago, we did so cognizant of the fact that Black and Pacific Islander mothers have long faced structural racism that impacts the ability to have healthy birth outcomes, and that for too long those concerns went unaddressed by those in power.”
Susan continued saying, “What we never could have imagined was how the current pandemic would rip open a chasm within our society and make clear exactly why we all must listen to those with lived experiences — the very people who have been sounding the alarm and providing cogent and restorative solutions all along. It is our responsibility not just as a donor community but as human beings to listen to one another, to encourage others to do the same, and to partner with local government to address seemingly intractable problems that are the consequences of years of inequality.”
Black infants born in San Francisco are almost twice as likely to be born prematurely than White infants. The Abundant Birth Project will work with local Bay Area prenatal care providers and SF’s network of pregnancy support services.