Maternal mortality—the death of a woman during pregnancy,
childbirth, or in the 42 days after delivery—is often a preventable
tragedy and comprehensive efforts to save the lives of both mothers
and their children must be a priority of governments.
A study funded by the Gates Foundation published in April 2010,
reports the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes
worldwide has dropped from 526,300 in 1980 to 342,900 in 2008.
Without maternal deaths attributed to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there
would have been 281,500 maternal deaths worldwide in 2008.
Significant progress in reducing maternal mortality has been
achieved as countries head toward achieving the UN’s Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, particularly the reduction of
maternal mortality by three/quarters from 1990 levels, MDG #5.
Increasingly, however, maternal health is addressed as a component
of reproductive health; both maternal and reproductive health have
been defined by some government and UN officials as including access
to abortion. The phrase “safe abortion” is the ultimate oxymoron.
All abortion—legal or illegal—is unsafe for children and hurts women
physically and psychologically. Medical data strongly suggests that
induced abortion significantly raises the risk of premature and low
birth weight children born to women who have earlier undergone
Women deserve access to health care that will save their lives and
the lives of their precious children. Health policies that
parliamentarians enact and government officials promulgate need to
affirm dignity and respect for the lives of both mothers and unborn
children to achieve MDG 4, reduction in child mortality along with
MDG 5, reduction in maternal mortality. There are at least two lives
at risk in every pregnancy –more in multiple pregnancies—and all
have an inherent right to life and human dignity.
PNCI supports health programs that provide safe passage for both
mothers and their children during the critical time of childbirth
and advocates for programs that provide pregnant women with access
to emergency obstetric care to save their lives as well as their
babies. Complications from childbirth such as severe bleeding— the
number one cause of maternal death—can be treated and women’s lives
saved if women have access to clean blood for transfusions, skilled
birth attendants to recognize obstetric emergencies and provide
active management of the third stage of labor, safe and sanitary
birthing conditions, antibiotics, and prevention and treatment of
PNCI promotes women’s access to health care throughout pregnancy,
childbirth and the postpartum period and for the prevention and
treatment of illness and disease especially for HIV/AIDS, high blood
pressure, anemia, malaria and heart disease which are indirect
causes of maternal deaths.
Maternal Mortality: A Critical Issue
American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Provides a number of papers on maternal mortality which examines the
problems associated with accurate data collection
Provides research and statistics on the controversy and facts
surrounding maternal mortality
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Details the study
Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980-2008: a systematic
analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5