Last year, I went to Sierra Leone on a trip with the State Department and stumbled into a problem that eats away at all the happiness of the last few weeks. I learned that in Sierra Leone, one in eight women die in childbirth.
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Each year, 358,000 women worldwide die from complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth, there are four million neonatal deaths and three million stillbirths.
Whereas in the U.S. motherhood is for most women a joyous celebration, in many developing countries it is often said that to be pregnant is to put one foot in the grave.
Too many people of faith are unaware of the tragic and unending scale of maternal mortality. To bring attention to this global tragedy, we are calling on religious leaders to become involved.
Maternal mortality is a tragedy of global inequity. But if we commit ourselves to changing the health care delivery systems that fail poor, rural women, we can eliminate this tragedy.
In the United States today, more than 95% of our pregnant moms deliver in a hospital setting. Yet, for normal pregnancies, science has proven that it is safer to use a midwifery model of care.
We will make progress on HIV/AIDS, education, nutrition, health care, on immunization, even, I believe, on the environment, if we reduce the number of mothers dying needlessly in childbirth.
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