Connecticut Passes Bill to Expand Health Equity and Address Growing Disparities in Health Care Services

June 2, 2021
Contact: Kelly Novak, [email protected]

New York City – Yesterday, the Connecticut legislature passed SB1, An Act Equalizing Comprehensive Access to Mental, Behavioral and Physical Health Care in Response to the Pandemic.

SB1 advances equity in health care through three main provisions. First, it standardizes the collection of race, ethnicity, and language data — necessary information for increasing equity among Connecticut residents. Second, it declares racism a public health crisis, following the lead of 21 localities across the state that have already made this declaration. Finally, SB1 establishes a definition for doulas in state statute. Doulas help give birthing parents the support and empowerment to make their own decisions, and increased access to doula care has been proven to improve birth outcomes. Defining doula in state law is an essential step in systematizing and expanding access to that care.

“States have the responsibility and opportunity to address the disparities in health care that have been laid bare and exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “NIRH partnered with Health Equity Solutions in order to highlight this urgent need and pass policy that will increase equitable access to reproductive health care. We congratulate Health Equity Solutions as well as the Connecticut lawmakers and advocates who championed the passage of SB1, which will address disparities and advance health equity across the state.”

“In the wake of the loss resulting from this pandemic and increased awareness of the devastating losses caused by racism, we are proud that Connecticut has passed this legislation. SB1 not only acknowledges the public health crisis that racism is, but also takes steps to address injustices. By standardizing how we collect race and ethnicity data, defining the doula profession, and creating the Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health, Connecticut has taken key steps along the path to health equity. The journey will be long, but we are in good company and our goals are clear and achievable,” said Executive Director of Health Equity Solutions, Tekisha Dwan Everette, PhD.

NIRH has long worked in partnership with Health Equity Solutions since 2018, having collaborated with them to highlight the importance and need for doula services for birthing people in Connecticut by working to ensure access to doula care for all people in Connecticut regardless of income level.

Having passed both chambers of the legislature, SB1 now heads to Governor Ned Lamont — and advocates are encouraging him to sign this bill into law.


The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) is an advocacy group that works directly with state and local reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations and allied groups to protect and advance access to reproductive healthcare. For more than 40 years, NIRH has been partnering with communities to build coalitions, launch campaigns, and successfully advocate for policy change. NIRH’s strategy is to go on the offensive and focus on communities where change is needed, so the fabric of reproductive freedom becomes harder to tear apart.