It’s been a very busy week and I’ve mostly been working behind the scenes on the new web site, but I didn’t want to let these news items pass unremarked:

  • In Honduras, the president of the Congress declared on Wednesday that he has decided not to move forward on the bill that would have made use of the emergency contraceptive Plan B a crime subject to jail time. This bill was based on the mistaken belief that Plan B causes abortions.

  • The U. S. House of Representatives voted on H.R. 4970, a re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act that contains none of the updated protections for LBGT people, Native Americans, or immigrants that were contained in the bill passed by the Senate. Advocates for victims of domestic violence considered H.R. 4970 a “fake VAWA” and promise to continue to work toward a final bill that contains the updated provisions.

  • Good news: New Report: Fewer Women Dying in Pregnancy, Childbirth

    The number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth, worldwide, has decreased by almost half, over a twenty year period (from 1990 – 2010), according to a new report. It’s good news, says Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA. But there’s a lot more work to do. […]

    “We know exactly what to do to prevent maternal deaths: improve access to voluntary family planning, invest in health workers with midwifery skills, and ensure access to emergency obstetric care when complications arise. These interventions have proven to save lives and accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 5,” said Dr. Osotimehin.

    Via Impatient Optimists, the blog of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I highly recommend the blog to anyone concerned about maternal and child health and family planning. You can subscribe directly to the Maternal, Newborn and Child Heath topic using this RSS feed.

  • More good news: Education, Not Abortion, Reduces Maternal Mortality, Study Suggests

    A scientific analysis of 50 years of maternal mortality data from Chile has found that the most important factor in reducing maternal mortality is the educational level of women. “Educating women enhances women’s ability to access existing health care resources, including skilled attendants for childbirth, and directly leads to a reduction in her risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth,” according to Dr Elard Koch, epidemiologist and leading author of the study. […]

    One of the most significant findings is that, contrary to widely-held assumptions, making abortion illegal in Chile did not result in an increase in maternal mortality. In fact, after abortion was made illegal in 1989, the MMR continued to decrease from 41.3 to 12.7 per 100,000 live births (69.2% reduction). “Definitively, the legal status of abortion is unrelated to overall maternal mortality rates” emphasized Koch.

    For those of us who consider abortion violence against a human being, it is always encouraging to see recognition of nonviolent ways to solve the problems that abortion is meant to solve. Educating women is the key to women’s health, their ability to care for themselves and children, their economic security, and even their countries’ development. Holding women back from education and self-care — including family planning if they desire it — is unjust and wasteful. It’s a disservice to individual women and their families, and to the entire world.