Mother's Day Wish: No More Needless Deaths
Modern contraceptives in poor nations can save thousands: Kristof
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2011 7:00 AM CDT
Getting modern contraceptives to third-world nations can save tens of thousands of women from dying from pregnancy complications.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – For Mother's Day, how about we do something to reduce the 350,000 deaths of mothers during childbirth each year, suggests Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. Congress has the power to help, but it would involve one of the big Republican taboos—"family planning." He cites a UN estimate that 215 million women around the world have an "unmet need" for such planning, "meaning they don’t want to become pregnant but are not using effective contraception." Getting contraceptives to them would result in 94,000 fewer deaths from pregnancy complications and 25 million fewer abortions, according to one research institute. It also would help keep the world's soaring population in check.

Despite those positives, Republicans are seeking to slash international family planning support. Last month's budget deal called for a 5% cut, but conservatives are seeking much larger one in the future. Kristof contrasts these policies with the GOP's unconditional support for contraception for wild horses in the American West. "Maybe on Mother’s Day, we could acknowledge that family planning is just as essential for humans as for horses," he writes.