SUPPORT MOTHERS AND CHILDREN TODAY
"What's the most dangerous thing a woman can do?" The answer to that question is something many of us take for granted, yet all too often is a death sentence in the developing world: pregnancy and childbirth.
The numbers are staggering: every 90 seconds, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth - that's about 1,000 women a day. Yet experts say that more than 80% of these deaths are totally preventable if only the mothers-to-be received even proper medical care and intervention.
This Friday, December 16 th, Diane Sawyer and a team of ABC News correspondents will take a hard look at this "international crime" in an hour-long, prime-time special on 20/20 called "Making Life: A Risky Proposition." With reports by Sawyer, Dr. Richard Besser, John Quinones and Deborah Roberts from across the globe, this primetime special documents the real-life challenges pregnant women and new mothers face in the developing world - focusing on conditions in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Mexico.
"Making Life" highlights the fact that for millions of women in developing countries, the most basic human rights - a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth, and a baby who will survive and thrive - are often out of reach. For the past few months, this has been the focus of the Million Moms Challenge, an historic, one-of-a-kind initiative between ABC News and the United Nations Foundation that has brought together some of the most respected nonprofit organizations helping mothers and children around the world.
Lives are being saved and transformed through proven, cost-effective measures, yet Congress is considering deep budget cuts that would have an enormous impact on the survival and health of mothers and newborns. While this is a challenging economic time for the nation, these programs make up less than a fraction of one percent of the entire federal budget.
"It is especially important that those of us who deeply care about the health of a mother and her baby before, during and after childbirth give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves," said Theresa Shaver, president and executive director of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood. "Together our voices are loud, and we are obligated to remind lawmakers these women matter, especially in tough economic times."
To raise awareness about crucial funding issues, the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and CARE's Mothers Day Every Day have launched a petition that encourages Americans to stand up and say "We care."
The petition reads in part: "Global health funding, including for maternal, newborn and child health is among the most cost-effective, life-saving and security-enhancing investments the U.S. can make today and are reflective of core American values."
"This effort highlights and reinforces one of the top priorities of our time - reducing the number of mothers that die during pregnancy and delivery and ensuring a bright start for their children." said Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE.
In 2009, the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and CARE, two organizations at the forefront of global women's health, came together to launch Mothers Day Every Day - an unprecedented, bipartisan, U.S. advocacy initiative to accelerate progress and reinforce the importance of the survival and health of mothers and newborns.