Author(s): Portugal AM, Claro A
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Abstract PIP: Women still die as a result of pregnancy in Latin America. Hispanic culture and Catholicism consider motherhood to be the most honorable and gratifying role a woman can achieve. Women who do not become mothers tend to be scorned or condemned. Women who have experienced abortions face the worst possible criticism. The Catholic Church leads the way in keeping abortion illegal. In Latin America, the role model for mothers is the Virgin Mary. Underregistration of maternal deaths is the norm in Latin America. 36\% of maternal deaths take place during pregnancy; 94\% could have been prevented. Hemorrhage, complications during puerperium, preeclampsia/eclampsia, and illegal abortions comprise at least 75\% of maternal deaths in some countries (e.g., Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela). In Colombia, illegal abortions are responsible for 60\% of maternal deaths. 22-63\% of pregnant women in Latin America have anemia. Women need to rise up and question why the entire social, economic, and health systems in Latin America allow high maternal mortality to continue. The number of obstetric beds is so low that 2 mothers share 1 bed. They often suffer consequences of this overcrowding and lack of hygiene. Cuba has among the lowest maternal mortality rates in Latin America and the Caribbean because women have access to pre- and postnatal care, abortion is legal, and contraceptives are freely distributed. Attending to women who conduct illegal self-induced abortions makes up a considerable part of the health budget (e.g.,k 1 hospital in Lima, Peru, spent $US 8 million in 1980). Women's groups in Brazil are leaders in promoting women's health. Their efforts have resulted in the establishment of the Integrated Health Care for Women Program, a conference on women and reproductive rights, and discussions about sexuality through the Group for Women's Health. Women in Latin America are indeed demanding to be seen and heard.
This article was published in Conscience
and referenced in Tropical Medicine & Surgery