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Backlash to Affirmative Action Hits Pioneering Maternal 国产精品视频 Program for Black Women

Backlash to Affirmative Action Hits Pioneering Maternal 国产精品视频 Program for Black Women

Briana Jones had high blood pressure, leading to swollen ankles and dizziness, during the pregnancies with her two sons. During her more recent pregnancy, she qualified to be part of San Francisco鈥檚 Abundant Birth Project, whose $1,000-a-month stipend enabled her to move into an apartment and buy healthy foods. (Brittany Sterling)

For Briana Jones, a young Black mother in San Francisco, a city program called the has been a godsend.

Designed to counter the 鈥溾 that researchers say leads a disproportionate number of African American mothers to die from childbirth, the project has provided 150 pregnant Black and Pacific Islander San Franciscans a $1,000 monthly stipend.

The money enabled Jones, 20, to pay for gas to drive to prenatal clinics, buy fresh fruits and vegetables for her toddler son and herself, and remain healthy as she prepared for the birth of her second child last year.

But the future of the Abundant Birth Project is clouded by alleging that the program, the first of its kind in the nation, illegally discriminates by giving the stipend only to people of a specific race. The lawsuit also targets San Francisco guaranteed-income programs , , and .

The litigation is part of a growing national effort by conservative groups to eliminate racial preferences in a wide range of institutions following a that found race-conscious admissions to colleges and universities to be unconstitutional.

In health care, legal actions threaten efforts to provide scholarships to minority medical school students and other initiatives to create a physician workforce that looks more like the nation.

The lawsuits also endanger other measures designed to reduce well-documented racial disparities. Black women are three to four times than white women to die in labor or from related complications in the U.S., and Black infants are twice as likely as white infants to be born prematurely and to die before their first birthdays. Racial and ethnic minorities also are to die from diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and heart disease than their white counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A handful of activist nonprofit groups and law firms are leading the charge. , a nonprofit formed in 2022, has sued , , and to try to stop them from choosing applicants based on race. Do No Harm claims more than 6,000 members worldwide and partners with nonprofit legal organizations, most notably the , which garnered national attention California鈥檚 same-sex marriage ban.

Another nonprofit, the , together with a Dallas-based law firm called the , filed the lawsuit against the city of San Francisco and the state of California over the Abundant Birth Project, alleging the program violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution鈥檚 14th Amendment by granting money exclusively to Black and Pacific Islander women. The 14th Amendment was passed after the Civil War to give rights to formerly enslaved Black people.

The lawsuit calls public money used for the project and the three other guaranteed-income programs 鈥渄iscriminatory giveaways鈥 that are 鈥渋llegal, wasteful, and injurious.鈥

鈥淭he city and county of San Francisco crafted the Abundant Birth Project with the express intention of picking beneficiaries based on race,鈥 Dan Morenoff, executive director of the American Civil Rights Project, said in a phone interview. 鈥淚t鈥檚 unconstitutional. They can鈥檛 legally do it, and we are optimistic that the courts will not allow them to continue to do it.鈥

San Francisco and state officials declined to discuss the case because of the pending litigation, but the city defended the program in its initial response to the lawsuit. The Abundant Birth Project started in June 2021 and plans to make a second round of grants to pregnant mothers this fall, the response says.

The project strives to improve maternal and infant health outcomes by easing the economic stress on pregnant Black and Pacific Islander San Franciscans. People in those groups face some of the in the U.S., where as a result of pregnancy and childbirth than in other high-income nations. The state of California last year to expand the program to include Black mothers in four other counties.

But a Berkeley law professor and anthropologist who has talked to beneficiaries of the Abundant Birth Project but is not directly involved with it, said the Supreme Court ruling on college affirmative action could actually support the argument that the program is legal.

The court struck down affirmative action in part because the majority said Harvard and the University of North Carolina failed to show measurable outcomes justifying race consciousness in college admissions. While statistics on potential benefits from the Abundant Birth Project are not publicly available, Bridges and others familiar with the program expect researchers to demonstrate it saves and improves lives by comparing the health outcomes of families who received the stipend with those of families who did not. The outcomes could justify employing race to choose program participants, Bridges said.

Bridges also drew another distinction between the role of race in college admissions and the role of race in health disparities.

鈥淚f you don鈥檛 get into Harvard, there鈥檚 always Princeton or Columbia or Cornell,鈥 she said. 鈥淢aternal death 鈥 the stakes are a little bit higher.鈥

When Briana Jones was pregnant with her second son, Adonis, a San Francisco program called the Abundant Birth Project enabled her to pay for gas for prenatal appointments, find housing, feed her toddler son, and remain healthy as she prepared to welcome her second child. The program has provided 150 pregnant Black and Pacific Islander San Franciscans a $1,000 monthly stipend. (Briana Jones)
While Briana Jones was pregnant with the younger of her two sons, she qualified through San Francisco鈥檚 Abundant Birth Project as one of nearly 150 women to receive a $1,000-a-month stipend during her pregnancy and for six months postpartum. (Briana Jones)

In California, a voter initiative, Proposition 209, has prohibited race-based selection in public education and employment since 1996. California Assembly member (D-Oakland) has co-authored a that would amend the proposition to allow municipalities to grant benefits to specific groups of vulnerable people if they use research-based measures that can reduce health and other disparities.

Bonta, a law school graduate, told KFF 国产精品视频 News that the litigation against the Abundant Birth Project is the result of 鈥渃onservative groups who want to exist in a world that doesn鈥檛 exist, where communities of color have not had to suffer the generational harm that comes from structural racism.鈥

Bonta has more than once been a victim of medical racism herself.

When she went to the hospital with a serious back injury, she was interrogated by a doctor who appeared to believe she was faking pain so she could obtain drugs.

鈥淏ut for the intervention of my husband, who happened to be there and moved into health advocacy mode, I, as a Black Latina woman, would not have received the care that I needed,鈥 she said. Bonta鈥檚 husband, Rob Bonta, is also a lawyer and is now California鈥檚 attorney general.

Briana Jones experiences racism every day, she said.

She was 15 when she gave birth to her first child in a San Francisco hospital. Terrified and in agonizing pain, she did what laboring mothers have always done and screamed.

A nurse ordered her to 鈥渟hut up.鈥

In the U.S., Black women are far more likely than white women to report that health care providers scolded, threatened, or shouted at them during childbirth, . They also face of , including barriers to quality care and cumulative stress from lifelong discrimination.

Growing up Black in San Francisco has been a struggle for Jones. But, while carrying her second baby last year, she learned from her mother of the Abundant Birth Project, and within a month, her race and address in Bayview Hunters Point, where some of the city鈥檚 poorest residents live, qualified her as one of nearly 150 women to receive the $1,000 a month during her pregnancy and for six months postpartum.

鈥淚 really did feel like it was God helping me,鈥 she said.

For Morenoff, though, it鈥檚 just another form of discrimination, and he says the city must either open the Abundant Birth Project to all pregnant women or close it down. 鈥淭he whole point of the 14th Amendment is to require America to treat all Americans as Americans with the same equal rights,鈥 he said.

Jones had high blood pressure, leading to swollen ankles and dizziness, during both her pregnancies. In her more recent one, the birth project stipend helped enable her to quit couch surfing and move into an apartment, and she gave birth to a healthy boy named Adonis.

鈥淚t鈥檚 known that people of color struggle way harder than other races,鈥 Jones said. 鈥淲here I live, it鈥檚 nothing but struggle here, people trying to make ends meet.鈥

鈥淔or them to try to take this program away from us,鈥 she said, 鈥渋t鈥檚 wrong.鈥

This article was produced by KFF 国产精品视频 News, which publishes , an editorially independent service of the .