The Brooklyn Assemblymember Who’s Pioneering Equitable Maternal Healthcare
We’re always on the lookout for NYC mamas (and soon-to-be mamas) who inspire us. Whether it’s small business owners who encourage us to follow our passion or fashion-forward influencers who give us confidence in our bodies, we highlight mamas doing great things. So when we got in touch with the incredibly strong and beautiful Brooklyn Assemblymember who’s innovating and advocating for equitable maternal healthcare, we wanted to share her story.
Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn is the Assemblywoman for New York State’s 42nd Assembly District representing Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood and Ditmas Park in Brooklyn. Rodneyse is also the Brooklyn Democratic Chair, the first woman and first Black woman to be one. She is first Haitian American woman elected in NYC and is currently pregnant with her own child, but her passion for maternal healthcare long preceded her current pregnancy.
About 6 years ago, Rodneyse experienced a pre-term pregnancy loss. Although the loss came down to many factors, the key one was that maternal healthcare, healthcare transparency, and access to providers who put both mothers and their babies first, was severely lacking.
Rodneyse was high-risk and had several complications, some of which were not detected or not properly communicated, leading to her being rushed to Columbia Medical Center where she was told the only solution was to rid her of her baby. “I wanted the doctors to do everything they needed to save me and my baby,” she said.
Eventually, Rodneyse delivered her child, Jonah, at another hospital in Brooklyn- Wyckoff Hospital, where he lived for less than two hours. “It was probably the saddest day of my life,” she explained. “That’s when I decided to really focus on maternal healthcare bills.”
And she did. Rodneyse drove the “Jonah Bichotte Cowan Law” in her son’s name, which establishes requirements for treatment when an expecting mother comes to a hospital with concerns about pre-term labor. Because of Rodneyse’s policy work, NYC soon-to-be mamas will have their medical concerns taken seriously.
But her innovation in maternal healthcare doesn’t stop there. Amidst the heartbreaking Roe v. Wade turnover, Rodneyse took action. After learning about how NY healthcare providers don’t always prioritize removing a dead fetus from a woman’s belly, implicating emotional trauma for mothers who carry their passed baby, she introduced “Mickie’s Law”. The law would require, per the woman’s consent, providers to remove the dead fetus in a timely manner.
“I’ve really been at the forefront helping as many women as possible to be safe and understand that there are resources out there,” Rodneyse said. “Most recently, I opened up a health clinic and dedicated the second floor as a maternal health center.”
After experiencing such a painful loss of her own, Rodneyse translated, and continues to translate, her experience into policies that will hopefully prevent the same thing from happening to other women. Knowing what she does now, Rodneyse has taken extra precautions with her current pregnancy.
“I’m excited that I was able to get a second chance not only in life, but a second chance to give life.”
We wish Rodneyse a healthy birth and smooth transition into motherhood, and we encourage our NYC mamas out there to join Rodneyse in the fight for equitable, transparent maternal healthcare!