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Opinion Pieces Published In Recognition Of Mother's Day

The following are summaries of several opinion pieces published in recognition of Mother’s Day, observed May 13.

  • Mae Azango, Foreign Policy’s “Argument”: Azango, an award-winning human rights journalist in Monrovia, Liberia, describes her experience giving birth in Liberia at the age of 18, 20 years ago, and she discusses maternal mortality in the country, writing, “Even today, nearly a decade after the end of the civil war, and in Africa’s first country with a female president, Liberia has the world’s 10th-highest maternal mortality rate. Health clinics and hospitals are few and far between. On average, the World Health Organization reported in 2010, Liberia has only three nurses or midwives and less than one doctor for every 10,000 people.” She concludes, “Pregnancies, accidental or planned, should be supported by effective health systems. … As the international donor community shifts its focus to helping women who don’t want to be mothers, I hope we won’t forget the ones who do” (5/11).
  • Ophelia Dahl, GlobalPost’s “Commentary”: “Today, we celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States,” but “for hundreds of millions of poor women around the world, the excitement of pregnancy is overshadowed by deadly peril,” Dahl, the executive director and co-founder of Partners In Health, writes. “In poor countries like Haiti, Lesotho and Malawi, women routinely and obscenely die because they do not have access to basic health care services that we in the United States take for granted — family planning, pre- and post-natal care, delivery assisted by a doctor or midwife, and access to c-sections or blood transfusions in an emergency,” she writes, concluding, “How do you quantify the cost of more than 350,000 women’s lives a year? Measured in moral and human terms, the value of even a single woman’s life is incalculable, compounded by the fact that when mothers die in childbirth, their babies often die as well, and their older children are left orphaned and at high risk” (5/13).
  • Henry Mosley, Washington Post’s “Guest Voices”: “One of the defining characteristics of mothers with the good fortune of living in developed nations is having the means to control childbearing to promote their health and their family’s welfare,” Mosley, professor emeritus at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, writes, adding, “It is in this context, that as a Christian, I am mystified by the recent political debates about providers restricting access to family planning methods, because I believe the practice of fertility control is one of the core values of responsible parenthood.” He continues, “I am speaking from the perspective of a health professional who has worked for over 45 years on public health programs in developing countries and has seen the devastating consequences for women and their families when they have not had the freedom, the information and means to exercise fertility control,” citing Bangladesh as an example. Mosley concludes, “Fortunately, the international community interest in supporting family planning has been reinvigorated in the past few years. I am encouraged to see the interest of philanthropist Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaking from her Catholic background, in getting this issue back on the global health agenda” (5/12).
  • Caroline Mutoko, CNN’s “African Voices”: “Every 90 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from a pregnancy-related complication; for them and their families there will be no Mother’s Day ever,” Mutoko, a radio presenter in Nairobi, Kenya, writes, adding, “For these women and their families, there is no Mother’s Day. That’s why this year, I ask you to heed my call and that of Amref and stand up for African Mothers, wherever they may be.” She provides statistics from the World Health Organization’s Trends in Maternal Mortality Report and discusses some causes behind these numbers. Mutoko concludes, “To reduce maternal mortality and strengthen the poorly functioning health system, a holistic strategy is necessary to be implemented. Without political will and good stewardship to revamp the health care system, women will continue to die needlessly” (5/14).