As we are all aware, a terrible earthquake destroyed Haiti, a country that already had the highest mortality rate in the western hemisphere. Amidst the relief efforts circulating in nearly every media outlet available, the earthquake has brought forth devastating effects on reproductive health in the area.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, there are over 35,000 pregnant women among the earthquake survivors. Women who were already struggling to access safe childbirth resources are having babies on the streets amidst this crisis. Research shows that women who are at an age to reproduce face challenges in obtaining pre and postnatal care and suffer from vaginal infections, pregnancy complications, unplanned pregnancies and post-traumatic stress. Circle of Health International (COHI) reports that for every 100,000 live births, 670 Haitian women die because of pregnancy-related issues each year. In addition, less than 30 percent of women in Haiti have access to a skilled birth attendent during their childbirth. With little to no access to contraceptives, healthcare, clean water, food, or shelter, these pregnant women are in dire situations.
I stand by the SisterSong definition of reproductive justice: the right to have a child, the right not to have a child and the right to parent a child. Haitian women are being denied all three of these rights as a result of systemic poverty and now, the terrible natural disaster that ruined their country. It's important for the right resources and funding to be sent through reliable relief services, in order to help women and children survive and have the proper access toward well-being.