From a tragic case in Massachusetts has emerged a rule affirming women’s fundamental personhood: “All births, regardless of venue, carry inherent risks; in the ordinary course, competent women who are pregnant may weigh these risks themselves and make decisions about the course of their own pregnancies and childbirths.”
We in North Carolina are enduring yet another vicious attack on the rights of pregnant and childbearing individuals. Women seeking home births may have the legal right to do so, but just like the women seeking abortion care, these laws do nothing to protect access.
Race-based maternal health disparities are no longer a concern of the minority — they are a concern of the majority. And they should be a top priority. If Medicaid doesn’t make room for alternative, potentially life saving maternal health models, we risk endangering the health of generations to come.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Women Deliver, the maternal health advocacy group, today named its “Women Deliver 50,” a list not of individuals, but of solutions, focusing not on the “who” but the “how of change, and hopefully inspriing people to think bigger and crazier, and do better work.
There is a subtle message–often coming from other women–that to truly experience childbirth, women must eschew medical interventions, including pain medication, and go “natural.” But some women are happy to put their deliveries in the hands of the medical establishment with its rules and regulations, its operating rooms, its NICUs, and its drugs. That’s a good choice, too.
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.