by Susan Yoshihara
January 21, 2010
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (LifeNews.com/CFAM) — Immediately after the earthquake that devastated Haiti last week, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) used the crisis to solicit funds for its family planning clinics in the country.
At the same time, a pro-life medical team arrived in Port au Prince to provide emergency medical services and skilled birth attendants.
The responses highlight a rising dispute over the current United Nations (UN) program for reducing maternal mortality which puts fertility control first, a program in which Haiti has been a main target but has nonetheless maintained one of the world’s highest rates of maternal death.
Carmen Barroso, regional director for IPPF, the world’s top abortion provider, justified the fund drive for the IPPF affiliate, Profamil, saying “Since 1984, PROFAMIL has worked to improve sexual and reproductive healthcare in Haiti, often providing the only healthcare available in some areas.”
Abortion is legal but highly restricted in Haiti. Profamil boasts delivering 600,000 condoms in a single year in 2005 and IPPF awarded the group for keeping up an aggressive contraceptive campaign from 2003-2005 during a period of political and economic instability.
According to IPPF’s last annual report, contraceptive sales are its second highest source of income in the Western hemisphere after patient fees, accounting for more than $25M annually. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are among IPPFs top international donors, and the three are part of a UN group called the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health which promotes family planning as the number one way to prevent maternal death.
Pro-life UN experts have expressed grave concern because UN staff have stated that the UN’s “family planning first” approach to maternal health includes abortion, and because it runs counter to the long-standing consensus of the medical community that skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care are the best ways to reduce maternal mortality.
A pro-life obstetrical team from Matercare International (MCI) went to Haiti this week to conduct a needs assessment for a long-term operation serving Haitian women.
Dr. Robert Walley, director of MCI and leader of the team, told the Friday Fax that they will provide emergency obstetric care to mothers, many of whom have reportedly had to give birth in the streets since the crisis began a week ago.
“It almost seems that with these type of tragic circumstances somehow the world believes that life simply stops, so emergency obstetrical care for life threatening complications is not an immediate priority,” an MCI fundraising appeal stated. “The result is an enormous increase in the number of maternal deaths,” it said.
Haiti is the only country in the Western hemisphere that is on the UN’s list of 25 priority countries for maternal health programs, and therefore has received maximum distribution of contraception and reproductive health services. Despite this fact, Haiti has one of the highest rates of maternal deaths in the world, and the highest in the Western hemisphere.
Whereas about 11 women die in the United States for every 100,000 live births, about 700 Haitian suffer this fate, a rate more than five times higher than the average for the Latin American and Caribbean region.
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