Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Speak Out Against Maternal Mortality Worldwide and For Universal Access

The Religious Institute is committed to working towards a just, equitable, and inclusive world. On September 15th, as part of that global commitment, the Religious Institute is releasing its first internationally focused theological framework, the new Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Justice.

The Open Letter is being released to coincide with the United Nation’s High-Level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals. In 2000, the leaders of 189 countries agreed to eight goals to eradicate extreme poverty. Goal Five calls for improved global maternal health by reducing maternal mortality by three quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health.

Every year, more than 340,000 women and girls die as a result of the preventable complications from pregnancy and childbirth, almost all in developing countries. According to the Guttmacher Institute and the United Nations Population Fund, maternal mortality could be reduced by more than 70 percent by improved access to reproductive health services, including contraception, treatment for pregnancy and birth complications, and strategies to prevent or manage abortion related complications.

The new Open Letter recognizes that this is not just a public health crisis but a moral one. As the letter states, “the sacredness of life is best upheld when women and men create life intentionally, and women are able to have healthy pregnancies and childbirths.” Surely, people of faith from diverse perspectives can agree to work to create a world where no woman loses her life to create a new one.

The Open Letter calls on all religious leaders to:
• Educate themselves and their faith communities about the crisis of maternal mortality.
• Publicly advocate for increased support for maternal health and reproductive health services, domestically and globally.
• Work within their traditions to make the reduction of preventable maternal mortality a social justice issue.

You can help. If you are a religious leader, please become one of the endorsers of the new Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Justice. Become involved with the Religious Institute’s Rachel Sabbath Initiative. As a person of faith, join the U.N. Millennium Campaign.

The Open Letter ends, “We are called to bear witness to the harsh reality that without comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, women and girls around the world suffer illness, violence and death. Our mission as faith communities compels us to work together to assure that all may flourish. We renew our call to sexual and reproductive justice. We make a solemn commitment to help create a just and equitable world where no woman will die giving birth to the next generation.”

May it be so.

1 comment:

MFC said...

To die while trying to bring another life into the world is both heroic and heartbreaking. To have tragedy strike on what is usually considered to be such a blessed occasion is the brutal reality of extreme poverty. It is yet another example of the desperation and despair that fills the lives of those living on the edge. Many of these deaths could be prevented with proper nutrition and medical care. It is a sad commentary on the rest of the world that we allow mothers and their infants to suffer such unimaginable pain and death. http://stopextremepoverty.com/2010/08/10/maternal-mortality-in-extreme-poverty/