UNFPA: More Midwives Would Increase Healthier Pregnancies, Births
Public health experts and midwives gathered in Tunisia on Tuesday for the first International Forum on Midwifery in the Community, urging governments to promote midwifery as a means to decrease maternal and infant death rates. Members from the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other organizations from 20 countries called on governments to invest in training and supporting midwives in order to ensure that every woman has access to a skilled care provider during childbirth, something the UNFPA identifies as a "woman's basic human right." According to the 2005 WHO World Health Report, an estimated 334,000 additional midwives are required to reduce the number of maternal and infant deaths and disabilities during childbirth, the UNFPA cites in its release.
The UNFPA reports that, after an initial investment in midwifery programs, several countries including Costa Rica, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Tunisia have seen an improvement in the health and well-being of new mothers and babies. Worldwide, WHO found in 2005 that approximately 530,000 women die from preventable pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes, and that seven million infants die within four weeks of childbirth due to preventable causes, Medical News Today reports.
Kathy Herschderfer, the Secretary General of ICM, told the UNFPA, "Midwives form the bridge between communities and facilities. They transcend the levels of care within health systems, and are essential to the continuum of care during the childbearing cycle."
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .