In a hugely positive development for pregnant women – especially survivors of domestic violence – on September 26, 2014 Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1579, known as the Healthy Babies Act.
The Act, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone allows pregnant women to obtain CalWORKs benefits as early as the second trimester of pregnancy. CalWORKs provides income and employment opportunities which help keep pregnant women financially independent. Currently, CalWORKs assistance is not available until the third trimester of pregnancy.
Early access to assistance can help mitigate financial pressures and ensure better health outcomes for pregnant women and their infants. In fact, domestic violence is the most common health problem among pregnant women – one in six report physical or sexual abuse during pregnancy.
CalWORKs is a lifeline to safety for abuse survivors. According to the California Institute of Mental Health, eighteen percent of CalWORKs applicants apply for CalWORKs to escape abuse. Allowing pregnant women access to this resource earlier in their pregnancies will help low-income survivors of violence and their children remain independent, healthy and safe.
The law could not have passed without the help of the Women’s Policy Institute, and in particular the domestic violence team members: Mariya Taher, Julia Parish, Maria Caprio, Melodie Kruspodin, and Nicole Marquez who advocated for the bill throughout the past legislative year and were able to gather a broad range of supporters from California Latinas for Reproductive Justice to the California Catholic Conference.
W.O.M.A.N., Inc. is also a co-sponsored the Healthy Babies Act, and we are thrilled to see it enacted and the benefits that it will bring to pregnant survivors of domestic violence.