Photo Credit: Ali Smith/The Guardian
Jonah Bichotte Cowan
Passes State Legislature
Nearly four years ago, I lost my son,
Jonah Bichotte Cowan
after going into preterm labor. On October 4, 2016, I entered the New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Hospital 22 weeks into my pregnancy after a check-up revealed that I was several centimeters dilated. At the hospital, I was told that my baby and I were in an incredibly fatal and high risk situation. Knowing the risks associated with this condition, the doctors at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Hospital,
denied treatment and discharged me
, citing a
which claimed they could not
intervene before 23 weeks because insurance would not cover my preterm labor care. I was a week away from receiving the care we desperately needed. On October 7, 2016, I gave birth to Jonah, who was alive, at
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where I was admitted and received care. Jonah passed away several hours later.
In honor of Jonah, and
all the other babies and mothers who have lost their lives
as a result of these cruel and inhumane policies, I introduced the
Jonah Bichotte Cowan Law
This legislation requires hospitals to
expectant mothers if they are going into
to women with high-risk pregnancies.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte debates the Jonah Bichotte Cowan Law bill on the Assembly floor.
Today, the Jonah Bichotte Cowan Law
New York State Assembly and Senate
. The next step is for the Governor to sign the bill into law.
The enactment of Jonah's bill is a huge achievement, not only for me personally, but also to the
one in ten
families who are at risk of preterm birth.
Thank you to State
Senator Velmanette Montgomergy
for carrying the bill in the senate, and to advocacy organizations such as
The Baby Resource Center
Star Legacy Foundation
March of Dimes
for their activism and support of this bill.
Black Maternal Health
While I am elated that this legislation, named for my son, has passed, I know there is
still a lot left to do
to ensure all women receive the care they need. Racial disparities are clear when it comes to maternal healthcare.
- The most recent preterm birth statistics show that the rate of preterm birth among Black women is about 50% higher than the rate of preterm birth among white women.
- In the United States, Black infants are more than twice as likely to die as white infants. This disparity is wider than in 1850, before the end of slavery.
- Despite advancing medical technologies, more expectant mothers are dying today than they did 25 years ago, and Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes.
These disparities are no coincidence. They are the result of
systemic racial injustices
embedded in our healthcare system.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte with Majority Council Member Laurie Cumbo at a City Hall press conference addressing maternal health issues.
I first introduced Jonah's bill in 2018. It took many years of perseverance and advocacy to get where we are today. I will continue to champion this legislation as it moves to the executive, and
I will continue to fight to make sure expectant mothers across New York receive the quality healthcare they deserve
, regardless of the color of their skin. No pregnant woman should experience the trauma of being denied emergency medical care when she needs it most. I know that Jonah's memory will live on in each and every life that is saved.
Photo Credit: Ali Smith/The Guardian. Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte holds an urn containing the ashes of Jonah Bichotte Cowan, the child she lost due to complications with her pregnancy.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn covering Ditmas Park, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Midwood. She is currently the
Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs)
, and serves on the following committees:
Housing, Government Operations, Education
Banks, Health, and Higher Education
. She is also a member of the
Task Force on Women's Issues
and sits on
Governor Cuomo's Domestic Violence Advisory Council and Mayor De Blasio's MWBE Task Force.
As a current Assemblymember, District Leader, and Chair of Brooklyn Democratic Party, Rodneyse Bichotte has been an outspoken advocate on issues concerning
immigration, education, economic development, unemployment, education reform, health care access, senior citizen centers, affordable housing, school safety, women's and LGBTQ rights
, as well as other issues affecting the quality of life in the community.
Learn more about
Rodneyse Bichotte by visiting her website: