chapter  21
39 Pages

Maternal Mortality as a Human Rights Issue

In too many places around the globe, not much has changed since Martin Luther wrote, in the sixteenth century, “And even if women bear themselves weary or they bear themselves out that does not hurt. Let them bear themselves out. This is the purpose for which they exist.”1 Women in developing countries are bleeding to death after giving birth, writhing in the convulsions of eclampsia, and collapsing from days of futile contractions, knowing that they have suffocated their babies to death.2 The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimate that close to 600,000 women and girls die each year from complications of pregnancy or childbirth, despite the fact that technology that has been available for decades could have been used to avoid these deaths.3