Thursday, September 30, 2010
NPR just posted a story on Afghanistan's midwives. The training of midwives in a country with the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world (approximately 1600 women for every 100,000 women who deliver die) is proving to beneficial, not only for the women who deliver at these midwives hands, but for the midwives themselves. It is an occupation accepted in a society with deeply entrenched customs concerning women and work. With midwifery, everybody wins. The head of woman's affairs in the province of Badakshan, recently declared that the midwives are like, "...guardian angels for infants and mothers."
A world away, here in America, a world where woman's rights are supposedly sacrosanct, we are also struggling to make midwifery safe and legal. Illinois is currently debating the role of midwives in their state, a state with a large rural population, who sometimes end up delivering with no licensed practitioner attending them. Rural areas could grealty benefit from legal midwifery. It allows access to qualified health care providers, something all women should have the right to, during pregnancy and childbirth. Time magazine recently detailed the lengths some women have to go to in order to have a licensed midwife at their birth. It is reminiscent of the what some women used to go through in this country in order to obtain an abortion.
It astounds me how similar the struggles of a woman in rural Afghanistan and a woman on the 'El' train in Chicago truly are. Both are entitled to safe, smart, professional care during their childbearing years. Why then, can we laud such care for Afghan women, but fear or deny it for ourselves? It's time America realize all of the benefits of midwifery care, and it's time we stick up for woman's rights on our very own soil too. For as the head of woman's affairs summarized, midwives really are guardian angels for mothers and infants. Don't all mothers and infants deserve such a watchful, tender eye?