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Archive for the ‘Healthy Pregnancies’ Category

By Zarah Iqbal, Policy Intern

A report published by Amnesty International this month describes the dire situation of maternal health in the United States. According to this report, approximately half of the maternal deaths that occur in the US are easily preventable by access to quality maternal health care. This report goes hand in hand with the New York times report of the extremely high rates of cesarean section and induction of labor.

Some key facts from the Amnesty report:

  • Maternal mortality rate in the US has more than doubled in the period between 1987 and 2006;
  • Women in the US have a higher risk of dying from pregnancy related causes than women in 40 other countries, despite the fact that the US spends more on health care than any other country in the world;
  • African-American women are almost four times as likely as white women in the US to die of pregnancy-related complications.

In order to lower the risk of maternal deaths, women need access to quality prenatal care, care during delivery, and postpartum care. There are many barriers to accessing quality care. The first is the overwhelming number of Americans who are uninsured. Many women are unable to take time off from work, find transportation, or find childcare. Additionally, immigrant women are often unable to find healthcare services or information in languages other than English. (more…)

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A recent study led by researchers at UC Davis explores the association between intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy. The study shows that young women often face efforts by their partners to coerce pregnancy or destroy contraception, and that these attempts at reproductive control are associated with other forms of intimate partner violence, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy.

In this study, “Pregnancy coercion, intimate partner violence and unintended pregnancy,” published in the January issue of Contraception, researchers surveyed over 1300 English and Spanish-speaking women ages 16-29 who were seeking care at five family planning clinics in California. Researchers divided “reproductive control” into two broad areas: pregnancy coercion and birth control sabotage. The results showed that an astounding number of surveyed women had experienced either pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.

Approximately a third (35%, 237/683) of women reporting partner violence also reported either pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage, in contrast to only 15% (91/595) of those who never reported violence reporting reproductive control of either form….The combined effect of both partner violence and reproductive control increased the odds of unintended pregnancy almost two-fold.

While many pregnancy prevention efforts place the responsibility for unintended pregnancy on women, especially among teenagers, this study shows that these efforts are not only wrong, but dangerous. They ignore the possible role of of abusive partners in pregnancy.

It also contradicts the popular notion that men are the sole victims of contraceptive sabotage. We often hear stories of women deliberately missing their pill or lying about using contraception entirely to coerce their partner into a more serious relationship due to pregnancy. Less commonly known or discussed is the fact that men also participate in birth control sabotage to manipulate their partners.

The authors suggest a possible step forward: intervention programs provided by family planning clinics and harm reduction services for women affected by partner violence. Family planning clinics could be a great resource for women suffering domestic abuse if programs such as counseling services are offered.

This study shows how important it is for all women to have access to emergency contraception, and a choice of contraceptive methods. Some women need injectable or intrauterine methods so that their partners cannot see or tamper with their contraception. The study also stresses the importance of confidentiality in reproductive health care, so that women can exercise their right to reproductive health without fearing coercion from their partners.

By Zarah Iqbal, Policy Intern

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NLIRH has released our White Paper on Supporting Healthy Pregnancies, Parenting and Young Latinas’ Sexual Health!

The paper seeks to re-focus the conversation on young Latina mothers into one that comes from a reproductive justice perspective; in which the focus is empowerment for young women to choose when and whether to become mothers, and have the resources and systems in place to be successful when they do.

Read the full report.

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