Kirsten Gillibrand Proposes Huge Investments in Maternal Health, Child Care and Education

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign on Wednesday introduced a proposal aimed at investing heavily in maternal and child health, adoption and in vitro fertilization, paid family leave and universal prekindergarten.

The proposal, which Ms. Gillibrand called the “Family Bill of Rights,” continued her campaign’s focus on women and families. On Tuesday, she was among several Democratic candidates who joined a rally outside the Supreme Court to protest new abortion restrictions that some states had recently adopted.

But Ms. Gillibrand, of New York, has struggled to gain traction in the presidential race, barely registering in many Democratic primary polls. She has also lagged in fund-raising.

In a statement, Ms. Gillibrand said her new plan, which builds partly on her previous Senate initiatives, “will make all families stronger — regardless of who you are or what your ZIP code is — with a fundamental bill of rights that levels the playing field starting at birth.”

[Read more: Fewer than half of the nation’s rural counties still have a hospital that offers obstetric care.]

To pay for the proposal, which she pledged to make the priority of her first 100 days in the White House, the campaign said Ms. Gillibrand would call for a tax on Wall Street transactions to generate up to $1 trillion in new revenue over 10 years. A $1,000 stock purchase, for example, would be taxed at $5.

The plan calls for the distribution of “baby bundles,” or starter kits for an infant’s first month at home — including diapers, blankets and onesies, the campaign said — all in a decorated box with a small mattress that can be used as a baby bed. A similar program is used in Finland.

Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal also includes:

• A program to address the shortage of obstetricians in rural areas, and an effort to develop best practices to avoid pregnancy complications.

• A national paid family leave program that would permit workers to take time off to care for children and loved ones. The program would be financed by a weekly payroll tax of about $2, and employers would also contribute, the campaign said. The proposal is similar to a bill Ms. Gillibrand has offered in the Senate since 2013.

• An effort to assist states in creating universal prekindergarten.

• Expansion of the child and dependent care tax credit to cover 50 percent of $12,000 in care. Under the plan, families that do not pay federal income taxes because of existing credits or deductions could get a $6,000 refund.

• Tax credits for adoption, and a prohibition on adoption discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religion.

• A requirement that insurance companies cover fertility treatments like I.V.F.

Reacting to the proposal, Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonpartisan think tank, said that experiences in states with paid family leave programs suggested that women in those states were healthier, that their babies were healthier “and that helps them to return to work,” she said.

Currently, Ms. Hartmann said, about 50 percent of children in the United States have access to the type of prekindergarten proposed by Ms. Gillibrand.

Even before Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal, maternal health among black women has emerged as an issue in the Democratic primary. Senator Kamala Harris of California and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are among those who have raised the glaring racial discrepancies in maternal outcomes on the campaign trail.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that black, Native American and Alaska Native women die of pregnancy-related diseases at a rate about three times higher than that of white women.

“Everyone should be outraged this is happening in America,” Ms. Harris wrote on Twitter this month. She blamed the deaths on racial bias in the health care system.

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