Saving mothers' lives: A call to action

Staggering numbers of women die each day as a result of childbirth and pregnancy. In response, Church and Society launched a campaign leading up to Mother's Day focused on the many ways we can save mothers' lives. We can do this work every day. Indeed, stopping maternal deaths is central to Jesus' command that we love our neighbors.

Here are all the pieces of that campaign. While we released these resources leading up to Mother’s Day, they are mostly evergreen and can be used throughout the year. Feel free to adapt however works best for you.

A United Methodist OB-GYN

Dr. Kathy Hartke is an OB-GYN and a United Methodist. She spoke about her call to be an OB-GYN and how she puts her faith into action by serving women and advocating for policies that will save mothers’ lives.

Breaking barriers

There are several barriers to care. If we want to save mothers’ lives, we must break the barriers to accessing care. Barriers include: delays in getting care; misinformation; lacking contraception; language; education; racism; health literacy; and cultural practices.

Quality care

We must also expect high-quality care. In talking with health care professionals, we learned three things could improve care: intensive screenings, childbirth interventions and postpartum care. Taken together, focusing on increasing the quality of care women get before, during and after childbirth will decrease the number of women who die because of pregnancy and childbirth.

Good stewardship

If we’re going to treat motherhood as sacred, we are going to need to invest our resources better. Health organizations need to put money toward programs proven to work and governments need to fund maternal health programs.

End racism

Race plays a significant role in health outcomes. Black mothers are 243 times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy than white women. While there are wealth and education disparities between white and black women, these disparities don’t explain why wealthy and educated black women are more likely to suffer severe complication than working-class white women without high school diplomas. White supremacy, whether intentional or not, causes the deaths of black mothers and babies.

Mother’s Day Toolkit

We created several resources that local congregations can use and adapt to their local context. The toolkit includes:

  • A bulletin insert.
  • Preaching tips with maternal health facts document.
  • A one-page maternal values sheet.
Pastoral letter

The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, general secretary of Church and Society, along with 35 active and retired bishops issued a pastoral letter for Mother’s Day. They lifted up the local and global work United Methodist ministries do saving mothers lives. They also highlighted the important role governments could play in supporting maternal health.

If you have questions or want to share a story of maternal health in your community, please contact Susan Burton at