NIRH Congratulates Rhode Island Advocates on Expansion of Doula Access

July 7, 2021
Contact: Kelly Novak, [email protected]

NEW YORK CITY — The National Institute for Reproductive Health congratulates Rhode Island advocates and elected leaders on the passage of their state budget that includes Medicaid coverage for the doula care, and SB 484/HB 5929 that mandates inclusion of doula care in private insurance plans. This coverage is critical to improving the health and safety of pregnant people and their children, and particularly Black birthing people and their families.

The budget item and bill were championed by a coalition of doula and advocacy groups including NIRH’s partner, SISTA Fire, a local network of Black, Indigenous and women and nonbinary people of color, who work to build their collective power for social, economic, and political transformation.

“We are thrilled for and so proud of our partners at SISTA Fire and the critical doula groups on the ground for their advocacy, and glad that Rhode Island elected leaders who recognize the importance of doula access,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “Local and state leaders have real responsibility and opportunity to step up for their constituents, and this was unquestionably a bill that needed to be passed. We are grateful that the leadership and sponsors for championing these measures, specifically lead sponsors Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassel and Sen. Ana Quezada.

“We are proud to have a bill that women of color and birth workers led,” said Preetilata Hashemi, SISTA Fire Member and a community doula. “This bill is first and foremost for black and brown birthing people and our families. We believe this is a critical step towards addressing the Black Maternal Health Crisis and advancing Birth Justice in Rhode Island. This victory is built on years of hard work of doulas, organizers, and Black birth workers’ leadership. This bill is rooted in our community’s love and commitment that all people are treated with dignity during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period.”

Evidence strongly suggests that the presence of a doula significantly improves birth and postpartum outcomes and mitigates the racial disparities in parental and fetal morbidity and mortality. Research shows that access to doula care leads to an increase in positive birth outcomes, a dramatic reduction in birth complications, increased health equity, and cost savings. Additionally, doula care has shown to lead to fewer cesarean births, shorter labors, and an overall reduction in medical spending by eliminating unnecessary procedures and avoiding complications that can occur before, during, and after birth.


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.