My jaw dropped yesterday when I saw that headline on page 9 of the Metro. According to Save the Children, teen pregnancy is responsible for over 1 million deaths a year in the developing world. The group also claims that 900,000 babies die each year as a result of being born to teen mothers.
Shockingly (and, perhaps, insensitively), British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said,

“It is a shocking fact that pregnancy can be a death sentence for many girls in the developing world.”

Apparently, it’s not as shocking that pregnancy can be a death sentence for fetuses in developed countries like the United States where abortions now outpace live births in the South Bronx, Harlem and other low-income communities.
The good news, however, is the report’s authors support for marriage and delaying marriages involving child and teenage brides. The issue of condom use and contraception (as well as child marriage and rape in war-torn regions) deserve serious discussion. Unfortunately, well-meaning groups like Save the Children consider abortion as a primary method of contraception.
What are your thoughts?
You can find the full report and news release here.
In a new report, Every Woman’s Right: How family planning saves children’s lives, the international humanitarian and development agency highlights the many ways that lives are saved when women can choose the timing and spacing of their pregnancies. Becoming pregnant too soon (less than 24 months) after a previous birth is dangerous for both mothers and babies. In fact, enabling access to family planning so that women can delay conception for at least three years after giving birth reduces risk of maternal and newborn complications and could save up to 1.8 million lives each year.
However, contraception is not easily available for many. Some 222 million women around the world who don’t want to get pregnant currently don’t have access to contraception. This year, an estimated 80 million unintended or mistimed pregnancies will occur in developing countries.
“As a mother, I know how valuable that recovery time after giving birth can be. What is more surprising is that delaying the next pregnancy dramatically reduces the risk of complications and death for newborns and mothers, which is critical,” said Save the Children‘s President & CEO, Carolyn Miles.
“We encourage families to let their daughters complete school and delay marriage since those early pregnancies can be a death sentence. Our report highlights the important role of health workers in providing contraception to help families space births and how more years of education can help delay marriage – both of which save children’s lives,” Miles said.
World leaders are congregating in London next month for a family planning summit hosted by the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This comes on the heels of a global Call to Action to end preventable child deaths within a generation, hosted by USAID with the governments of India and Ethiopia in mid-June. Save the Children is calling for policymakers to endorse this bold goal and sees family planning as a key part of the solution along with other investments in health, nutrition and girls education.
Meeting the entire global need for contraception could prevent 30 percent of maternal deaths and 20 percent of neonatal deaths in the developing world – potentially saving 649,000 lives a year.
Michael Benjamin