Senator Portantino’s Maternal Mental Health & Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program Extension Bills Pass Assembly Health Committee

Wednesday, June 22 2022

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2022

Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400


Senator Portantino’s Maternal Mental Health & Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program Extension Bills Pass Assembly Health Committee

Sacramento, CA – Senate Bills 1207 and 883 passed the Assembly Health Committee.  SB 1205 is authored by Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) and would improve maternal mental health support by providing women with outreach services, education and access to mental health treatment.  SB 883, jointly authored by Senator Portantino and Senator Roth, extends the sunset date on the Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program (UCBCP) for an additional five years. 

“SB 1207 addresses the need for improved maternal mental health care,” commented Senator Portantino.  “With 100,000 cases of postpartum depression being reported each year, adequate support and services are critically needed. We must step up our efforts to support women struggling with maternal mental health and wellness during pregnancy and after childbirth.”

Postpartum depression is a severe form of clinical depression related to pregnancy and childbirth.  The California Department of Public Health reports that 1 in 5 California women suffered from it in 2018.  Symptoms include severe mood swings and deep despondency as well as impulses that can compel a mother to harm herself or her child.  Evidence suggests that mothers also may hesitate to seek help because of stigmas associated with mental illness, as well as cultural expectations surrounding motherhood and the traditional roles of women.  Women of color continue to be among the most affected, in part because too many are under insured.  Prenatal symptoms of depression are twice as common for Black (19.9%) and Latina (17.1%) women compared to white (9.5%) and Asian/Pacific Islander (10.3%) women.

“Behavioral health should not be seen as specialty care. Treatment, diagnosis, and early detection of post-partum depression and other maternal mental health conditions are essential to protecting mothers and children.  SB 1207, is a priority for healthcare districts, and should be for the rest of the state,” stated Sarah Bridge, Senior Legislative Advocate for the Association of California Health Districts.

SB 1207 would extend the deadline for the establishment of the maternal mental health program to July 1, 2023.  The bill would revise the requirements of the program to include quality measures to encourage screening, diagnosis, treatment, and referral. It also would encourage health care service plans and health insurers to include coverage for doulas, incentivize training opportunities for contracting obstetric providers, and educate enrollees and insureds about the program.

“Perinatal depression, which includes major and minor depressive episodes that occur during pregnancy or in the first 12 months after delivery, is one of the most common medical complications during pregnancy and the postpartum period, affecting one in seven women.  It is important to identify pregnant and postpartum women with depression because untreated perinatal depression and other mood disorders can have devastating effects,” said Dr. Laura Sirott, a private practice obstetrician and gynecologist in Pasadena.  “The COVID-19 pandemic has added a layer of complexity and isolation that could substantially increase the rates of postpartum depression and other maternal mental health conditions.  It is vital to provide adequate care for women’s mental health during pregnancy and after childbirth.”

SB 1207 is supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists District IX (ACOG), Association of California Health Districts, California Catholic Conference and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

In 2010, Senator Portantino authored AB 52 to establish California’s Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program.  It is a statewide public program designed to capture the genetic diversity of Californians through the collection of cord blood units for transplantation.  Umbilical cord blood is used to treat over 80 life-threatening diseases, including various types of leukemias, immune deficiencies, and lymphomas. According to the University of California, there have been 75 transplants to date.   Senate Bill 883 was authored to keep this lifesaving program going.

“I am excited that SB 883 is moving forward and we can extend the sunset date for this program.  The program was the result of the very first bill I introduced on my very first day in office as an Assemblymember.  This program has saved lived and will continue to do so if we extend the sunset date,” commented Senator Portantino.

SB 883 passed the Assembly Health Committee this week.  It extends the sunset date on the Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program from 2023 to 2027. 

“We are proud to support the extension of the Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program, which helps make this potentially lifesaving resource more inclusive and available to diverse children and adults across our state as well as furthers medical research," said Executive Vice President of University of California Health Carrie L. Byington, M.D.