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Irish Law, “Conscience Clauses,” and Needless Death: Three Questions About Savita Halappanavar’s Death

University College Hospital, Galway. Photo: Thejournal.ie.

Numerous questions have arisen in the wake of Savita’s case. Why did this happen? Doesn’t Ireland, a country with otherwise draconian abortion laws, allow abortion to save the life of the mother? Was there any doubt an abortion was necessary to save Savita’s life? Can this happen in the United States? And here are my answers.

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Data Show Maternal Deaths Continue to Decline Worldwide

Last week the UN released its latest estimates on global maternal deaths, just  two years after the last figure. From 1990 to 2010, they found, the number of women dying from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes worldwide dropped from 543,000 to 287,000, a near-fifty percent reduction in fatalities.

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Global Roundup: Malian Women’s Rights Efforts Backfire; Afghanistan’s First Female Presidential Candidate Poised

Weekly global roundup: a revised family code in Mali oppresses women further; Fawzia Koofi makes waves in Afghanistan and worldwide; Venezuela wrestles with a stubborn maternal mortality rate; and a call for more midwives in Zambia.

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In Malawi, Banda’s Succession to Presidency Could Dramatically Improve Women’s Lives

Joyce Banda. [img src]

With all due respect to the late President Bingu, his death opened a rare window for reform Malawi, and golden opportunity – especially for Malawi’s women. Joyce Banda is a widely respected and heralded champion for women’s rights and health, and has never been shy to speak her mind about it.

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Uganda: Pregnancy and Childbirth Mean Playing Russian Roulette With Women’s Lives

Tadej Znidarcic/The New York Times

Last March, a landmark maternal health petition was filed in Uganda, aimed at holding the government accountable for the deaths of two women in childbirth. It garnered global media attention at the time, yet five months into the process momentum has stalled. When will it be time to women to take the front seat?

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United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Fails to Uphold Women’s Human Rights

This year marked the first time in history that the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women did not produced Agreed Conclusions. The most contentious issues, not surprisingly, were related to  women’s access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

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Hormonal Contraception and HIV: Weighing the Evidence and Balancing the Risks

An article in yesterday’s New York Times suggesting that injectable contraceptive use might double the risk of HIV transmission among women in Africa sent waves of anxiety through the global public health community, leading some to ask whether we should halt delivery of injectables. But experts say: “Not so fast.”

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Women’s Reproductive Rights Under Threat in Colombia

Prenatal care in rural Colombia in 1981. Image: UNICEF/ UN Photo

Despite a landmark ruling five years ago – when Colombia’s Constitutional Court decriminalized abortion in cases of rape, fetal abnormality or to save the mother’s life – less than 0.5 percent of procedures are carried out legally each year. 

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International Human Rights Court Says Governments Must Ensure Timely Access to Maternal Health Services

In 2002, Alyne da Silva Pimentel, a 28-year-old Afro-Brazilian woman, died after being denied basic medical care to address complications in her pregnancy. Her death might be like any one of the other hundreds of thousands of women who die of complications of pregnancy or unsafe abortion each year worldwide, but for one thing: It was taken to court.

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Increased Investment in Midwifery Services Can Save 3.6 Million Lives Annually

Thirty-eight of 58 countries surveyed may fail to meet their target of 95 percent coverage by skilled attendants by 2015 unless an additional 120,000 midwives are trained, deployed and retained. A new report also indicates that upgrading midwifery services could save more than 3.6 million lives each year by 2015.

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