The lives of more than 100,000 women worldwide could be saved by increased access to contraception, according to a new study on maternal deaths funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The study, conducted by The Lancet, surveyed 172 countries and found that maternal deaths would decrease by about one-third if contraceptives were more easily accessible. What’s more, already available contraception prevented 44 percent of potential maternal deaths in 2008:
We estimate, using model I, that 342,203 women died of maternal causes in 2008, but that contraceptive use averted 272,040 (uncertainty interval 127 937—407 134) maternal deaths (44% reduction), so without contraceptive use, the number of maternal deaths would have been 1·8 times higher than the 2008 total. Satisfying unmet need for contraception could prevent another 104,000 maternal deaths per year (29% reduction).
The British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will host a conference in England this weekend to discuss funding for greater contraception access, particularly in developing countries.
The global movement toward contraception access to improve women’s health is oddly reversed from the contraception battles here in the United States. While countries worldwide are recognizing how contraceptive access is important to saving the life and livelihood of mothers, some American Republican politicians are trying to find any foothold to roll back contraception and abortion access.