Safe Motherhood: Obstetric Fistula
LAmom has blogged about the problem of obstetric fistula in developing countries.:
Obstetric fistula is an injury of childbearing that has been relatively neglected, despite the devastating impact it has on the lives of girls and women. It is usually caused by several days of obstructed labour, without timely medical intervention — typically a Caesarean section to relieve the pressure. The consequences of fistula are life shattering: The baby usually dies, and the woman is left with chronic incontinence. Because of her inability to control her flow of urine or faeces, she is often abandoned or neglected by her husband and family and ostracized by her community. Without treatment, her prospects for work and family life are greatly diminished, and she is often left to rely on charity.
The trouble is that the Campaign to End Fistula is run by the UNFPA, the same folks who brought us the campain of forced abortion in China. Their web site says:
Making family planning available to all who want to use it would reduce maternal disability and death by at least 20 per cent. Complementing that with skilled attendance at all births and emergency obstetric care for those women who develop complications during delivery would make fistula as rare in the South as it is in the North. These interventions are part of UNFPA's overall strategy to make motherhood safer. Addressing social issues that contribute to the problem - such as early pregnancy, girls' education, poverty and women's empowerment - are important areas of intervention as well.
Note the focus on "making family planning available" -- code for "pass out birth control pills to people who need antibiotics, and set up abortion clinics in villages that don't even have potable water." Nowhere does this plan address nutrition, potable water, or basic sanitation. I fear that the bulk of money given to this program would be spent on contraceptives and abortion, and very little on improving women's underlying health and treating women who need health care.
More from the web site:
Why is UNFPA spearheading this effort? UNFPA's long involvement in programmes to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity make it uniquely qualified to tackle the challenge of fistula. Moreover, fistula touches on nearly every aspect of UNFPA's mandate, including reproductive health and rights, gender equality and empowerment, and adolescent reproductive health. Because of the many factors that contribute directly and indirectly to fistula, addressing this issue can serve as an entry point for overall improvements in women's reproductive health and rights. At the same time, fistula is a window allowing us to see where reproductive health services are failing to safeguard women's health, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. (Emphasis mine.)
To their credit, they do address the issue of child marriages. But their biggest focus seems to indicate that the Campaign to End Fistula is just a Trojan Horse (Ha!) to trick prolifers into letting them into our wallets and into these women's lives.
I'm looing for trustworthy organizations addressing this issue. Here are some possibilities. Does anybody know about:
- The Fistula Foundation
- The Worldwide Fistula Fund
- Hamlin Fistula Relief and Aid Fund
- Mercy Ships
- Direct Relief International
Let's find an organization that helps women without insisting on also killing fetuses.