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Friday, April 20, 2007

Some Mothers are Luckier than Others

International Museum of Women (IMOW) - Motherhood Today web entry

Recently, I read about the miraculous story of baby Amillia Sonja Taylor who was born safely in a Florida hospital, after only 22 weeks' of gestation. Measuring no longer than a pen, Amillia overcame the odds, to enter the record books as the most premature baby ever to survive.

As a mother of four young children, I know the indescribable joy that the birth of a baby brings...and I can only guess at the relief and happiness that Amillia's parents felt taking her home from the hospital, four months after she was born.

Amillia's survival is testament to the amazing and mind-boggling medical advances that some countries have made in the past century.

I'll say it again in case you missed it. Some countries. Sadly, today, millions of women around the world still endure the risks of pregnancy and childbirth under conditions virtually unchanged over time. It's a sad fact that childbirth, a time of new life, is, too often, a death sentence for a mother and her baby.

Why is it that in some countries we can save a baby at 22 weeks' gestation, while around the world, 4 million newborns die within the first month of life every year?

Why is it that in some countries, we have elaborate, gift-laden baby showers, while in other countries, three out of four newborn babies die for the want of a knit cap to keep them warm, or a sterile blade to cut their umbilical cord?

Why is it that in some countries mothers-to-be can spend hours deliberating over the variety of pain relief available, the method of delivery, and the choice of their obstetrician, while, every year, 60 million mothers in the developing world give birth at home with no professional help -- and, as a result, a mother dies every minute from childbirth?

Some countries, some mothers, and some babies are luckier than others.

I don't think women and children should have to depend on luck for a shot at their future.

That's why, last year, in Jordan, I joined many strong, women-of-conscience, from around the world, to launch the Global Women's Action Network for Children. We want to spotlight this inequity, and we want to channel political will and resources to ensure that we reach the hard-to-reach...mothers-to-be in remote areas whose lives are at risk if they give birth...and babies whose survival depends on low-cost interventions which can reduce newborn deaths by up to 70%.

Very soon, millions of people around the world will celebrate Mothers' Day. I'd like to hear your thoughts on what we can do to promote greater social justice for mothers and their babies.