Maternal Health IV: A Pro-Life Response
Posted by Fiorella Nash on 16 February 2016
It is not enough simply to condemn the actions of anti-life forces for exploiting the suffering of women to promote the ideology of abortion.
The tragedy of maternal mortality needs to be faced and it requires a courageous and honest response.
Abortion is not the sad necessity, nor the empowering procedure presented by groups like Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation: it needs to be recognised as part of the problem. As Robert Walley has stated:
Unfortunately, the international safe motherhood initiative has accepted the current culture of death prevalent in obstetrics and gynaecology, as abortion is included as the solution to maternal health problems. All of this points to a real poverty – the lack of love and compassion.
Love and compassion
The staff and volunteers at MaterCare International know something about love and compassion for the forgotten mothers of the developing world. They provide life-saving assistance to women and babies in Kenya and Ghana and are providing emergency help in Haiti since an earthquake devastated that country.
They are forced to work without state funding and are entirely reliant upon donations from members of the public. MCI's mission statement links their work directly to putting a pro-life ethic into practical action - they are:
"improving the lives and health of mothers and babies both born and unborn, through new initiatives of service, training, research, and advocacy designed to reduce the tragic levels of abortion world-wide and maternal and perinatal mortality, morbidity in developing countries."
Knowledge into action
As pro-life campaigners, we know that maternal mortality is a tragedy and that abortion is not the answer, but I believe that we are under an obligation to turn that knowledge into action. There is a very real need for a campaign to lobby for good maternity care for women in developing countries, to dispel the myths about abortion being put about by interested parties and to sound the alarm about the promotion of abortion by stealth in the name of maternal health.
In doing this, we can reach out to those who support our principles but have never considered becoming involved in our work. There is a terrible tendency, particularly on the parish level, to regard pro-life and social justice campaigning as entirely separate and in some ways, diametrically opposed. But pro-life campaigning should be regarded as just as much a part of social justice as campaigns to provide vaccination programmes for infants in sub-Saharan Africa.
The ultimate human rights movement
It is the terrible blind spot in current human rights campaigning – the failure to acknowledge the rights of every member of the human family – and we need to be there, linking up with likeminded people who are pro-life but maybe have not seen this as the priority until now, to show that the pro-life movement is the ultimate human rights movement which excludes no member of the human family under any circumstances.
And through such a campaign we can offer hope to mothers around the world who face the prospect of giving birth in fear and trembling rather than with joy.
Whenever anyone tells me that a situation in a foreign country is none of their business (and I hear that comment disturbingly often) I ask how they would feel if their own sister were facing death for want of medical care that they themselves take for granted.
This is not just an attempt to make people feel guilty! Radical feminists talk about the universal sisterhood, though they are sadly prepared to show a remarkably callous attitude to women who fail to meet the entry requirements.
We must speak of sisterhood, of human fellowship, and show the world we mean it.
This is the final post in Fiorella's 4-part series on maternal health - catch up on Part 1 and Part 2
and Part 3 if you've missed them.