London — Melinda Gates wants you to know this: if women in poor countries can get the contraceptives they want, millions of lives will be saved.
She questions why modern contraceptives should be controversial, when they can reduce a staggering death toll. “We have 100,000 women who didn’t want to get pregnant who die in childbirth. We have 600,000 babies, where mothers say they didn’t intend to get pregnant and their child dies – every single year!”
Over 350,000 women and three million babies – mostly in developing countries – die annually from complications related to pregnancy and giving birth. “It is a health crisis,” Gates says. “It’s a life-and-death crisis for these women.”
Research supports her. A study of 172 countries published in the current issue of the medical journal The Lancet says that although bleeding, infections and other problems are the leading causes of mothers dying during pregnancy and childbirth in developing countries, “family planning is the primary intervention to prevent maternal mortality.”