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Prioritization Needed to Advance Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health: Editorial

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A few weeks ago, Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, participated in the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), a UN conference in which 179 countries made a plan to make sure that decisions and issues involving sexual and reproductive health are considered to be human rights.

According to this plan, the governments made a commitment to ensure that reproductive health services be accessible to all women. These services included maternal healthcare, access to family planning, sex education, and and post-abortion care services.

In a most disappointed tone, Northup states that the countries, including the United States, have not fulfilled their promises.

To support her argument Northup lists the following facts: In 2005 more than 500,000 women died to complications that were preventable from pregnancy and birth. In 2007, in sub-Saharan Africa, 61% of the 22.5 million people living with HIV were women. The U.S. has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the developed world; African-American women are practically four times more likely to die in childbirth than are white women. This is a most shocking statistic considering the status of the U.S. in the world. One has to ask, why this horrible neglect, what's going on, and why you rarely hear about it in the mainstream media.

Some serious investigations have to be done regarding this tragic statistic, including how to prevent these maternal deaths.

Hillary Clinton said the following in an interview with the New York Times magazine, "...Without providing more rights and responsibilities for women, many of the goals we claim to pursue in our foreign policy are either unachievable or much harder to achieve."

Northup makes the logical argument that if the U.S. doesn't prioritize healtcare right here in our country, then how does it expect other nations to do likewise? She makes a plea to the public to join her in asking Secretary of State Clinton to "reestablish the U.S. as a champion of women's rights by publicly endorsing the ICPD plan TODAY."

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