Birthin’ Babies

Even if
you’ve never seen all four hours of Gone With the Wind,
you probably know the line:
“I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ babies.”
I can
say that with conviction. I’ve never had a baby. I’ve never been in a delivery
room with someone who has. (And here’s a piece of Carol trivia that has nothing
to do with where this post is going: I have changed only one diaper in my
But I do
know that the birth of a child is supposed to be a joyous time, in spite of the
pain. That makes this
TIME magazine article even more distressing. If you wish, start with the video
or the 
picture gallery of Mamma Sessay, an 18-year-old from Sierra Leone, married since age 14, which
chronicals her death while giving birth to twins. It’s not supposed to be like
this, but it is. In Sierra Leone for every 100 women who give birth, one of
them dies (1033 per 100,000 births).
Lancaster County, where I live, there were 7229 births in 2008 (the latest
statistics available). An equivalent maternal mortality rate would be 72 women,
one every five days. In reality the U.S. ratio is 16.6 women per 100,000,
meaning Lancaster County is likely to have one maternal death a year. And the
U.S. rate is nowhere near the best (we rank 39th in maternal mortality rates,
behind countries like Lithuania and Slovakia). And Sierra Leone isn’t the very
worst (Afghanistan holds that distinction, with 1575 maternal deaths per
100,000 births).
The Millennium
Development Goals set a goal to lower maternal mortality in 2015 by 75% from
2000 rates, but, according to the article, “only 12% of countries are on
track to meet that target.” The solutions aren’t complicated—education,
transportation to hospitals, access to medical care (prenatal as well as
delivery)—but they aren’t simple to execute.
And for
those of us who are pro-life, it can be difficult to determine what agencies to
support as some include access to abortion in their agendas. But “
World Relief’s Maternal and Child
Health Programs presently serve over 3.8 million people in 9 countries.”
You can feel confident donating to them. If you know of other pro-life–compatible
organizations working to reduce maternal mortality, please list them (and
provide links) in the comments section.


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