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New York Could Become First State to Offer Paid Leave for Prenatal Care

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday announced a series of proposed initiatives to address maternal and infant death in New York, including a proposal that would make the state the first to provide paid leave for prenatal care.

The announcement comes as New York City has been trying to reverse troubling rates of life-threatening emergencies related to childbirth. The risks are especially stark for Black women in the city, who are nine times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than their white counterparts.

Statewide, Black women are over four times more likely to die from childbirth-related complications, according to state data from 2016 to 2018. Nationwide, the rates of infant mortality are increasing for the first time in decades, Ms. Hochul said.

“Mothers and babies are dying unnecessarily across the nation, and right here in New York,” Ms. Hochul said. “This could only be called a crisis. And as the first mom governor, this is personal.”

To address the problem, Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, is proposing a six-point plan to improve maternal and infant health, which would include the elimination of co-pays for pregnancy services, expanded access to doulas statewide, training for clinicians on maternal mental health and free cribs for low-income parents.

The proposal is part of the governor’s annual State of the State plan, in which she lays out her priorities for the legislative session, which began on Wednesday. Ms. Hochul will formally present her vision on Jan. 9, in the Assembly chamber. Like a majority of her proposals, this one would require the support of the State Legislature.

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