Rights-Based Maternity Care Must Become a Global Priority
It has become all too clear lately that to be pregnant, to be in labor, or to birth a child is to put oneself at the mercy of larger powers—powers that sometimes seem unconvinced of women’s humanity. Anti-choice politicians are often the most egregious in leaving out any trace of women’s agency from their rhetoric around pregnancy and abortion. But now we are increasingly seeing evidence that some health-care providers, both in the United States and globally, tend to also reproduce the persistent narrative that girls and women relinquish their human rights when they conceive. Beginning last year, advocates launched the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights on April 11 to ensure that women’s rights in pregnancy, labor, and childbirth become an international priority, including among health providers and politicians.
The cases of Purvi Patel in Indiana and Las 17 in El Salvador have exposed violations of women’s human rights within health systems in the United States and internationally. As has been well-documented by others at RH Reality Check, Purvi Patel’s health providers, who were supposed to be focused on her wellbeing, instead reported her to the police. In El Salvador, 17 women have been imprisoned for miscarriages and other pregnancy complications, with some health providers pressured by strict anti-abortion laws to become witnesses against them.