I have many friends that have struggled with their fertility. I live in a world where all life centers around PTA meetings and Halloween costumes and where my single friends hide out in cities where they won't feel so alone. I read a couple of articles this weekend that reminded me that for most of the world, childbirth means serious injury, death, and poverty. And most of the world's women would have less children if they had the choice.
Nicholas Kristof writes a column about the horrors of fistulas, a serious childbirth injury usually occurring in girls who are too young to give birth. He reports on a doctor who is helping to repair the damage on these girls. The Times had a fabulous article on fistulas a few months ago. Here's a foundation that is devoted to repairing this birth injury.
The Economist has a cover article on the world-wide failing fertility rate. As the developing world gains in economic strength and as there are more opportunities for women to work outside the home, women have less children. Where there is access to birth control, women have even less children. When women have opportunities to work, education, and access to birth control, they chose to have fewer children. More than two children is a burden.
Motherhood is an entirely different experience for the American soccer mom and moms in Africa and Asia. Yet, in the comfort from our safe hospital rooms tricked out with jacuzzis and midwives and epidurals, we still know that dangers that accompany child birth. Without the help of a world class surgeon, I would have died in a hospital room. We need to form an international solidarity with the less fortunate mothers across the world and support international efforts to increase access to education, to provide birth control, and to lessen the occurrence of childbirth injuries and death.