faith in action

Saving Mothers' Lives: Good Stewardship

As we approach Mother's Day, we're taking a look at some of the steps we can take to help prevent deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth. This is part 3, being good stewards.

Health care

Health care is a basic human need. Each of us has health, and we each must take care of our health with the aid of experts. It is part of the human condition.

And yet, too many people lack access to health care. We discussed ways to break barriers to care in the first part of this series. Some people can get health care, but it’s not good. We talked about some markers of high-quality care in the second part of this series. In this article we will look at the ways our resources have been allocated fails to match our understanding of God, and what we as United Methodists can do about it.

Mothers are dying

Many Americans express the belief that the problem of mothers dying is an international problem, not something encountered at home. Globally, 830 women die each day due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. But surprisingly, a large number of American women die each year.

The U.S. is the 12th wealthiest country in the world, yet its maternal mortality rate is among the few in the world (and the only among developed nations) is growing.

According to Julia Belluz in Vox, “The global maternal mortality rate dropped by 44 percent worldwide between 1990 and 2015, and by 48 percent in developed countries. The US was one of only 13 countries, including North Korea and Zimbabwe, that saw its maternal death rate increase since 1990.”

When we look at the data regionally, the American maternal death rate is the only one increasing.

Eugene Declercq, an expert on maternal health at Boston University, is quoted in the Vox article mentioned above as saying, “The argument we make internationally is that [a high maternal death rate] is often a reflection of how the society views women…In other countries, we worry about the culture — women are not particularly valued, so they don’t set up systems to care for them at all. I think we have a similar problem in the US.”

Valuing mothers

Because we’ve failed to value women and mothers, we have not adequately allocated the resources God has entrusted us. Our failures mean pregnant woman and mothers of newborns are not getting the care they need, and moms are dying.

The United Methodist Church boldly declares, “Motherhood is sacred.

Programs like the Wellness on Wheels, a project of the United Methodist-related OhioHealth health care system, live out these values.

Sonia Booker, director of the program, credits OhioHealth’s current CEO, David Blom, for being a leader who listened and trusted innovated ideas. She said, “his commitment to the community, his commitment to people to be healthier [and] have access” contributed to his willingness to fund the first mobile clinic. Putting money into this program led to a maternal mortality rate significantly below national average, and on par with other developed nations.

But, if we’re going to treat motherhood as sacred, we are going to need to invest our collective resources better.

The United Methodist Church urges, “Like police and fire protection, health care is best funded through the government’s ability to tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities.” The church goes on to say, “We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care.”

Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day, we’re calling on United Methodists across the connection to celebrate moms and to work to save mothers’ lives.

The U.S. Congress is currently considering two bipartisan bills that will work to stop mothers and babies from dying from childbirth.

Celebrate moms’ and then call your members of Congress and ask them to support and co-sponsor these two vital bills. Share a personal story, if you have one, and tell them that as a United Methodist you believe motherhood is sacred.

The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act (H.R. 1318, S. 1112) to support states in their work to save and sustain the health of mothers during pregnancy, childbirth and after pregnancy.

The REACH Every Mother and Child Act (H.R. 4022, S. 1730) will increase the coordination and effectiveness of foreign aid program implementation to have the greatest impact.

Together, we can save mothers’ lives.