Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Safe Passages": Reducing Maternal Mortality

I recently came across an article published by the Linacre quarterly on the subject of maternal mortality which represents a major step forward in the global effort to ensure that every mother and every baby receive targeted life sustaining healthcare. The Article entitled "Safe Passages Pro-Life Response to the Tragedy of Maternal Deaths" was written by George Mulcaire-Jones, M.D., and Robert Scanlon, M.D., and describes an initiative of Maternal Life International
The following passages highlight the major international disagreement on how best to go about reducing Maternal mortality, pointing out the pitfalls of the current UN/WHO approach and highlighting the real solution, which they have called "a better way." This “better way” to reduce maternal mortality according to the report, lies in a different paradigm—a paradigm founded on respect for the life and dignity of the human person. The approach is known as  The Safe Passages Premise, which says that every mother and baby should be entitled to a safe passage: to a pregnancy and birth free of death, free of serious injury, and free of the HIV virus

"While there is almost universal agreement on the need to reach this goal, the question of how to do so is not only elusive, but extraordinarily divisive. There remains a chasm between the villages of Africa and the cities of Geneva, Stockholm, London, and Washington, D.C. It is the chasm representing the distance between a woman dying in a birthing hut with out sanitation, running water, or hope, and the carpeted board rooms where strategies are developed and priorities assigned. Vast resources,
which should have been directed to funding improvements in essential obstetrical care, have gone to a different agenda—so called “reproductive health.” Rather than focus on the real causes and solutions to maternal mortality, Safe Motherhood has become entangled within a “reproductive rights” agenda, which emphasizes access to contraception and promotes abortion." [...]
 The article continues 

[...] "Tragically, the prevailing reproductive-health paradigm has not only ignored this data, it has betrayed the basic premise of obstetrical care: obstetrics is the care of two persons: a mother and her fetus. How is it that Safe Motherhood became invested primarily in preventing women from becoming pregnant, rather than caring for women who are expecting a baby and the baby itself? In the extreme, advocates for Safe Motherhood have been advocates of expansive medical and surgical abortion, regardless of its safety and the lack of facility-based care for post-abortion complications. In an Orwellian way, an abortion-driven agenda has become more important than the lives of African mothers: In addition to the direct effects of induced abortion on women, there is the dangerous diversion of financial resources from interventions known to reduce maternal mortality: skilled birth attendants, antibiotics, blood banking, and uterotonics. Abortion, spontaneous and induced, accounts for less than 5 percent of maternal mortality. It is scientifically, medically, and morally unacceptable to divert resources from interventions proven to reduce maternal mortality to the provision of abortion, under the guise of “decreasing unsafe abortion.” The better way to reduce the human rights dimension of maternal mortality is to provide resources targeting the causes of 90 percent of maternal mortality."
The Safe Passages premise according to the article

"[...] is based upon accumulated historical and evidence-based data that clearly demonstrate when women and babies die in childbirth: from the onset of labor until seven days postpartum.7We call this time frame the “window of vulnerability” The window exposes the futility of antenatal care as a primary strategy in reducing maternal deaths—women generally do not die before going into labor. And the window further exposes the exaggeration of abortion-related deaths. If women were really dying in these kinds of numbers from so-called “unsafe abortions,” would not the statistical numbers show a clear spike early in pregnancy? Exaggeration of abortion-related deaths is used to promote “safe,” legal abortions. What saves the lives of mothers and babies during this window of
vulnerability is the presence of skilled birth attendants. A skilled birth attendant can recognize complications and initiate appropriate interventions."