In this Jan. 29, 2019, photo provided by Mountain Area Health Education Center, Kailee Morel Alvarez attends a meeting in the center's ob-gyn clinic in Asheville, N.C. Credit: Mountain Area Health Education Center via AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine lawmaker has introduced a bill designed to address racial disparity in prenatal care among expectant mothers in the state.

Democratic State Sen. Anne Carney, of Cape Elizabeth, touted the bill during a Tuesday public hearing. She cited a 2020 study that found the infant mortality rate among children of Black women in Maine was 1.4 times higher than the same rate for white women in the state.

Carney’s proposal would direct a state commission to study disparities in access to prenatal care in the state. The commission would be authorized to submit legislation to improve equity in access to prenatal care in the state, she said.

Maine Primary Care Association chief executive officer Darcy Shargo spoke in favor of the bill during the public hearing. Shargo said a body of research “underscores that when women receive good prenatal care during their first trimester, it is a good indication of overall future health for mothers, their children, and their families alike.”