BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Black Maternal Health Week advocates held a press conference on the Capitol steps to bring awareness.

Louisiana has the nation’s highest maternal death rate and second-highest infant death rate. According to the community, things need to change.

“One of three of my friends could possibly die during childbirth,” said Victoria Williams, a program coordinator and core member of the Mama Plus Bill Package.

Health experts explain that there are many factors why Louisiana ranks so high, but many agree that the main issue is bias.

Veronica Gillispie-Bell, a board certified OB-GYN and medical director of the Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative explained, “The goal should always not necessarily be that we deserve the same care but the same quality of care because biases impact our ability to do that.”

Gillispie-Bell says they are doing everything they can to change the numbers.

“Working with our birthing facilities to implement best practices around the leading causes of maternal mobility and mortality,” said Gillispie-Bell. “As well as best practices to reduce bias in stigma in care so that we can achieve equity.”

Louisiana legislators realize there are issues with pregnancies in the state. They have introduced House Bill 784, which aims to help make access to pregnancy care easier.

Meshawn Tarversiddiq, the senior program manager for Maternal and Child Health said the main three components of the bill are public awareness, screenings, and treatment.