maternal mortality rate
Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds
As the Republican-led state legislature has slashed funding to reproductive healthcare clinics, the maternal mortality rate doubled over just a two-year period
By Molly Redden

Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. Just let that sink in.

anonymous asked:

Lolz if ur anti-pro life than ur obviously pro death. Nice job asshole

Actually, it’s the “pro-‘life’” movement I’m against, not just “life” in general - obviously, otherwise I would probably be dead myself.

The pro-“life”/anti-abortion movement is extremely pro-death, though. Almost 70,000 women die and 5,000,000 more suffer from serious, life altering injuries every single year as a result of not being able to access a safe, legal abortion.

The pro-“life” movement is also notorious for their acts of terrorism - there’s even an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to their incidents. They have murdered, attempted to murder, and conspired to murder/harm many people who provide abortion services. They’ve also committed and attempted to commit other acts of terrorism including bombings and arson.

A few years ago, pro-“life” politicians in Texas passed a bill basically defunding Planned Parenthood. Their maternal mortality rate has since doubled, and the search for illegal abortion inducing drugs or at-home abortions has risen. 

Pro-“life” groups across the country just yesterday cheered as their president signed an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag Rule - which has in the past lead to a 40% RISE (or +2,000,000 annually) in (most likely unsafe) abortions and countless deaths globally. They most likely cheered as they don’t want to see “their” money go towards abortion, but fortunately for them it’s been illegal for federal funding to pay for abortion in foreign countries since the 70′s. They instead were simply cheering the defunding of HIV-prevention programs, domestic violence care/protection programs, facilities that provide contraception that prevents the abortions they claim to despise so much… I could go on, but you get the point.

The pro-“life” movement refuses to protect anyone’s life. They want to ban or defund anything that could possibly prevent unintended pregnancy or reduce abortion rates and will promote anything that has been proven to kill pregnant people. 

If you want to know what it’s like to be actually pro-life, spend some time hanging around with the pro-choice movement. You’ll see a reduction in abortions and in maternal mortality.

anonymous asked:

nobody cares if trans women are pro choice or not. abortion rights & the rising maternal mortality rate will never affect any of you ever. you're an ally just like pro choice men. the amount of objection to uterus/vagina signs at the march & your separation of women's oppression from its sex based origin to something we've identified into based on vague feminine feelings or something, belies your solidarity bid. afabs are oppressed for different reasons than trans women. you're not the same.

Honestly, I find this entire conversation so tiresome. You are talking past my points completely if you think that I am identifying the source of women’s oppression in ‘feeling feminine’.

I’m sure that you’ve heard it before and honestly I know that these sorts of arguments don’t really phase RFs, but not every single woman faces all of the component parts of misogyny. Womanhood is an experience that is modified by all sorts of other factors, to the extent that trying to place it in one specific locus is going to be unintelligible in a material sense. So like, your arguments leave behind intersex cafab people as well as infertile women, if we are to see women’s reproductive ability as somehow the root of their oppression. If we are talking abt ‘assumed reproductivity’, then at the end of the day there are going to be at least some camab people who are included in people assumed to be able to get pregnant. I dunno, I just feel like y'alls system of categorization doesn’t track onto real life.

I am somewhat agnostic abt the origins of all misogyny in the world (tho tbh that brings up another substative issue w RF, which is treating misogyny as a trans-historical and trans-cultural phenomenon that can be compared to each other, but that’s for another time). I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to making things better *now*.

For acting like I don’t take misogyny seriously, I would argue w you that I actually see misogyny as a more totalizing force in our society than you do. Y'all are playing a 3rd rate Shulamith Firestone, without any of the transhumanism that makes her theory make any sense (even if it is also wrong). What I’m saying is that misogyny is a force that will always be imposed upon women and people who are seen as un-men, regardless of whatever it is that we might do.

I do believe that women’s bodies are denigrated and controlled. I’ve already said that. You think that when I say that trans women’s bodies are included there, that I’m making some sort of statement that cis women’s bodies aren’t actually stigmatized, but what i would say is that the insight of including trans women’s experience is that womanhood as a social position and as an exploitative measure of control extends to all people considered women. The situation is in fact, much much worse than simply taking refuge in the idea that it came about because of some inexplicable hatred of certain body morphologies.

Just like how when women start to be more represented in a career, the pay drops. It’s not that the careers themselves are hated or not, it’s the person who has it (women). No amount of trying to solve the problem thru absolving gender or trying to make an ‘equal’ complimentary system will work because the category of womanhood is imposed on people in order to exploit us. It’s arbitrary and capricious, like a lot of the supposedly objective social systems that are used to exploit and harm people.

tbh I would love it if I could just be an ally to misogyny, sometimes. Like, who wouldn’t want like less shitty things to happen to them? I would love to just be an ally in a fight against transphobia too, but with both of these things, I am impacted by them in my daily life to such an extent that it’s unwise for me to ignore them. I feel real alienated from feminism, but I feel the need of self-preservation as a woman when I am confronted daily w misogyny. I am always considering not calling myself a feminist, just to be pulled back in when some dude (or sometimes woman) proposes or argues something misogynistic and harmful to us. So, against both of our wishes (mine, because you are a reactionary; you, because you don’t see me as truly human) our struggles for liberation are inextricably tied up in each other.

And maybe that’s the most unpleasant thing that I can say to you.

anonymous asked:

Why do you support abortion if it kills people? How can you possibly justify taking another life? Selfish human beings who rationalize in their heads that it's not "killing" so that their life can be a bit easier from their mistakes. No one is a mistake. There's a reason why each and every one of us was put on this earth and it is not up to us to play God and decide who lives and dies.

“It kills people,” is where you’re wrong.

Do you know what does kill people? Banning abortion. Illegal, unsafe abortion is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality around the world and it kills almost 70,000 each year. That’s nearly 200 people a day unnecessarily killed by pro-“life” policies.

Countries where abortion is illegal almost consistently have a.) higher maternal mortality rates and b.) higher abortion rates compared to countries with policies that respect reproductive healthcare.

Calling people selfish and questioning their morality does not reduce the need for abortions. All it does is contribute to the stigma surrounding abortion - which, again, can kill people, if you happen to target someone particularly vulnerable to your unfounded judgments. 

If you think abortion is so wrong because it kills people, why the hell do you continue to support policies that ensure that it will happen more and happen in an unsafe, deadly manner?

OK, so I’ve been reading a bunch of the “humans are weird” posts thanks to liketolaugh and maybe it’s because I’m pregnant right now, but I thought of this:


I have just arrived back from colony 02764, and as I have previously described to you, I took some time to study the mating and reproductive habits of the Galactic Union residents there. This colony is primarily populated by humans (Origin plant: Earth, CO: 876-09962-710293), and although they practice fairly standard courtship based mating (with a few interesting variations I will detail elsewhere), their mechanism of reproduction is one of the most unusual I have yet encountered. Unlike most GU species, humans carry out internal gestation of their young (referred to by the humans as pregnancy), and unique among those species which I have had the pleasure of studying so far, gestating humans are provided continuous nutrition from their mother via a specialized organ they produce that closely intertwines their blood vessels with those of their mother. According to the human scientists I spoke with, production of this organ requires the activity of numerous viral genes which have integrated into the human genome. As may be expected from such an arrangement, this produces significant problems with regards to immunologic rejection of the offspring by the mother’s body and termination of pregnancy. In order to prevent this, upon commencement of pregnancy, the mother’s body undergoes extensive immunological and hormonal remodeling in order to suppress the mother’s immune system and create an environment that is nurturing for the developing young. Of course, this remodeling is not without consequences for the mother and not only leaves her vulnerable to infectious agents but can also in itself cause her to become quite ill. In fact, early in pregnancy, gestation-related illness is so common that the humans created the term “morning sickness” to describe it.

Another striking feature of the humans’ method of reproduction is the size to which offspring develop internally, with young typically weighing near 6% of the mother’s body weight at the end of gestation. As a result of the large mass of the young, the mother’s organs are compressed and pushed into alternative configurations during the end pregnancy. Additionally, the abdominal region swells to two to three times its previous size to accommodate the young. These physical alterations take place over a matter of months, and, not surprisingly significantly impair the mobility of the mother. This makes me ponder the unique features of the evolutionary environment that must have been resent to allow such a reproductive strategy to fixate in the population. But I digress. The size of the young also proves to substantially complicate the process of birth (which if you will remember my previous descriptions of internal gestation is the process by which the young exit the body of the mother). This is particularly evident where the head of the offspring must fit through the pelvis of the mother (in humans both of these structures are bony and rigid). In order to accommodate this, humans have several adaptations. Throughout the pregnancy, the mother’s body produces hormones which cause the connective tissues of her body to relax in order to allow the non-bony parts of the pelvis to stretch to the maximal degree. Unfortunately, these hormones act indiscriminately and cause numerous side-effects in other parts of the body, which I do not have time to discuss here. In a similar manner, human young are born with hypo-ossification of their skeletons, which allows their skulls to compress to fit through the pelvis, but which leaves them vulnerable to brain injury for a period of time following birth. However, I am told that despite these adaptations, without medical supervision, the maternal mortality rate approaches 1%, making this also one of the deadliest forms of reproduction I have encountered. Despite this, I was told that in early times, it was not unusual for females to sustain 8 or more pregnancies over their lifetime. I must say that these facts surprised me most of all the things I learned about this mode of reproduction. Although I am told that this is a relatively common reproductive strategy on Earth, the humans’ origin planet, I can honestly say, that given its peril and rare nature, I do not expect to see the likes of it again in my future travels.


Here’s What Giving Birth Looks Like — In Two Very Different Worlds

Nearly one-fifth of all deaths among women ages 15 to 49 in Tanzania are related to pregnancy and labor. In Sweden the maternal mortality rate is one of the world’s lowest — just four women per 100,000 childbirths.

“I had the feeling Swedish women were acting out more, screaming more, even if they had painkillers.”



  1. CANADA. Ontario. 1996. Kent County. Mennonite.
  2. MEXICO. La Batea, Zacatecas. 1992. Mennonite girl sitting at a table.
  3. San Salvador. 1986. Newborn babies in the unsanitary and crowded conditions of a maternity hospital. The infant mortality rate was high during the war due to lack of medical facilities, general lack of healthcare, and an emergency blood supply which was used up by the military.
  4. CANADA. Ontario. Lambton County. Peter, Susanna and Benjamin PETERS in the spring wheat. 1995.
  5. CANADA. Ontario. 1991. Lambton County.
  6. AFGHANISTAN. Kabul. 2010. Village elder and daughter at ÒjirgaÓ over canal construction with US military Black Knight Troop in Kunar Valley. 

Larry Towell

Sleepy Hollow fic:

Title:  Improbable Home
Rating: G
Pairing/Characters: Ichabbie, Ichabod, Abbie, Jenny, Joe
Word count: 2273

Summary:  “Absolutely not,” he folds his arms, “naming a human being is a solemn duty – there will be no trifling with websites.” future fic, set some time after the series; Abbie is pregnant, Ichabod frets.


Abbie rocks on the bed in the position Ichabod has learned is most comfortable for her lately, with her legs folded and tucked under her swollen middle, and she hums to herself. It’s 2AM and she can’t sleep – Ichabod has fetched her mint tea, and an antacid, and ice cream (without pointing out that that would seem to somewhat defeat the purpose of the antacid – he has learned that such commentary will get him what Jenny calls ‘the stank eye’). He has rubbed her shoulders, and fetched her a different blanket – the one she prefers – from the den, and warmed her lavender scented wheat bag in the microwave oven, and offered to read to her from Paradise Lost. And still, she cannot sleep.

So now she rocks, and hums, and rubs her belly, whilst Ichabod tries not to pace.

“You are sure there’s nothing wrong?” He asks. “We could call Doctor Reed – he did say – ”

“I’m fine, Crane,” she waves a hand, “I just can’t get comfy.”

“We could call, just to be safe – ”

“It’s the middle of the night. A doctor is not going to get out of bed because an insomniac pregnant lady has acid reflux and a backache,” Abbie ceases rocking momentarily, “stop pacing.”

“I’m not pacing.”

“You’re twitching,” Abbie jabs a finger at him, “you’re like a big old grasshopper over there. Come sit down.”

Keep reading

The United States is ranked 55th in the world in the gender equality index, in between Saudi Arabia, ranked at 56 and the Russian Federation at 54
Our maternal mortality rate is 28 per 100,000, one above North Korea, and 17 more than Canada, the nearest country with a single-payer healthcare system
A larger percent of women have secondary education and yet they have a significantly lower labor force participation rate
Our congressional body is approximately 19.4% women (comparable to the Czech Republic and slightly below Estonia and Saudi Arabia), despite women making up roughly half the population

God bless America

A recent recommendation from doctors in the United Kingdom raised eyebrows in the United States: The British National Health Service says healthy women with straightforward pregnancies are better off staying out of the hospital to deliver their babies.

That’s heresy, obstetrician Dr. Neel Shah first thought. In the United States, 99 percent of babies are born in hospitals.

Shah was asked by the New England Journal of Medicine to respond to the British recommendation. He compared birth outcomes here in the U.S. and Britain, especially the cesarean rates, which average 33 percent in the U.S. compared with 26 percent in the U.K. And he started to think the British were on to something.

“We’re taking excellent care of high-risk women,” he says, “and leaving low-risk, normal women behind. We’re the only country on Earth with a rising maternal mortality rate.”

Should More Women Give Birth Outside The Hospital?

Illustration credit: Katherine Streeter for NPR

whysogrimm  asked:

I was pretty sure you hadn't answered this one yet, but do you ever think GRRM has too many women die in childbirth based on medieval statistics? Alison Weir, one of the great women's historians, reports the number of women who die in childbirth as 1 in 40. Obviously that's still way too many, but I bet the ratio in ASOIAF is too high given that. I'm also not sure if that means only 1:40 women would die, or you had a 1:40 chance each childbirth, but still.

I’m assuming the 1:40 ratio means “1 maternal death per 40 births” so for every 40 childbirths in the middle ages, one mother died. With each childbirth, the woman had a 2.5% chance of dying (1/40=0.025). (Today in the United States, the chance that a woman dies while giving birth is 0.015%.) Women tended to have multiple children, so the probability of a medieval woman dying in childbirth over the course of her lifetime was higher than 2.5%. The Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History suggests that a woman’s lifetime risk of maternal mortality was about 10%. 

maternal mortality rates between 1400 and 1800 were between 1 and 3 percent. Most often, women died in childbirth due to protracted labor caused by a narrow or deformed pelvis, fetal malpresentation, postpartum hemorrhage, or puerperal fevers. The health risk was renewed at each pregnancy. Since a woman averaged five pregnancies, 10 percent of these women died during or soon after childbirth.

However, GRRM claims that fewer women die in childbirth in Westeros than in the real medieval period, so GRRM’s statistics should be lower than 10%.

Childbirth isn’t quite the killer in Westeros that it was in medieval Europe in the real world, since Westeros has the maesters, who are a considerable improvement over medieval barber/surgeons… but the levels of mortality for both infant and mother would still be frighteningly high by modern standards. [SSM]

(Interestingly, in the same SSM entry, the woman writing to GRRM in 2003 complains about GRRM’s depiction of childbirth as “passive” and how GRRM responds with “point taken”. I wonder if there’s any connection to the depiction of Rhaenyra giving birth in TPATQ.)

Keep reading

“Once, I was helping a mother deliver her baby in the middle of the night when the power went off. She was already in labour, so I had to keep going using only the light from my mobile. I had to keep pressing buttons on my phone just to illuminate the room,” Tanzanian midwife Mary Raphael recounted.

In a country where there are just four midwives to every 10,000 women, Mary’s role as midwife is crucial in combating high maternal mortality rates. In addition to her midwifery position, she is also one of eighty-nine students in Tanzania studying through an e-learning program that provides further training. “Hopefully, the more skills I can get, the more women I can reach – and the more lives I can help save,” she says.

Read more via The Telegraph.

anonymous asked:

How do I convince someone that american sniper is a horrible movie?

Ask them to question the integrity of Chris Kyle himself. The film took many artistic liberties with Kyle, displaying him as someone with regret about his actions in the war. Though Kyle did actually struggle with PTSD, he repeatedly stated that he “had fun” doing his job and called Muslims savages.

Understanding that the film goes deeper is an important part of understanding its importance as a bad film. People have to know to look behind what you see on the screen and into the person it is based off of. If the film is based on a person with no regrets about the lives he stole, then his character feeling remorse for his actions means nothing.

Actual quotes from Chris Kyle:

“Honestly, I don’t know what will really happen on Judgment Day. But what I lean toward is that you know all of your sins, and God knows them all, and shame comes over you at the reality that He knows. I believe the fact that I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior will be my salvation. But in that backroom or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.
Chris Kyle, American Sniper

“But I wondered, how would I feel about killing someone? Now I know. It’s no big deal.
Chris Kyle, American Sniper: Memorial Edition

“Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy “savages.” There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there. People ask me all the time, “How many people have you killed?” My standard response is, “Does the answer make me less, or more, of a man?” The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives. Everyone I shot in Iraq was trying to harm Americans or Iraqis loyal to the new government.
Chris Kyle, American Sniper

This is a man that had no reaction to killing men, women, and children, assuredly many of them civilians.

The film also paints quite a pretty picture of Chris Kyle as it glosses over many important things that happened to him post-Iraq. He made various false claims like killing car jackers or punching Jesse Ventura. If this was attributed to his PTSD, I don’t know. But, still, they cherry-picked. And there is no law to say you can’t cherry-pick in film based on something real in order to condense it and make it concise. However, they cherry-picked in such a way as to avoid all things that would not paint him as a hero. They even glossed over his death, not making it loud and clear that he was shot by a fellow soldier with PTSD after his tours in Iraq. This could have left many people thinking he died while serving, making him the ultimate, all sacrificing hero.

When a film erases a certain part of a person’s history, especially one that is indicative of a person’s character, then the film itself is a fraud.

What people also should realize is that the whole film is a dehumanization of Muslim people. The film is constantly black and white, good vs. evil. The Americans are good and the Muslims are evil, exactly as Chris Kyle saw the world. He saw each and every person in Iraq as the enemy, evil people to be taken out for the sake of the American people. In the film, Muslims are either actively evil or nameless collateral damage.

Most Muslims are not even given a name. Each American soldier has a name, a backstory, a wife, a family, children, mothers, friends, dogs, whatever. They make every effort to make the American soldiers as sweetly sympathetic as possible, while not even bothering to give any Muslims names.

One man in the film, Mustafa, is Kyle’s enemy. He is a Syrian sniper and that’s all we know. He, unlike Chris Kyle, is given no backstory, no family, no reason for doing what he is doing. They had the opportunity to make the antagonist a complex character and instead he is flat and one-dimensional. They push the idea that Muslims are cold, uncaring people with Mustafa. He does what Chris Kyle does. He is a sniper and he kills American soldiers as Kyle kills Iraqis. Kyle is shown as a hero for doing the same thing Mustafa does because he is given a reason, a family, a sense of purpose for protecting his country. Mustafa is painted an anonymous sniper who kills for sport only.

This ties into the sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves scene in American Sniper. His father tells them there are three types of people in the world.

From the movie:
“Now, some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world … those are the sheep. And then you got predators who use violence to prey on the weak. They’re the wolves. And then there are those who have been blessed with the gift of aggression, and the overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed that live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.”

Chris Kyle is America’s patriot, the sheepdog. He protects his flock because he is a rare breed. He sacrifices because he is better than the rest.

Muslims are the wolves. The evil, lying, deceitful wolves. They prey on the weak and take what they want. They must be eliminated.

This is what the film is telling us. Maybe not directly, but this is what seeps into people’s subconscious when they watch this film. It can fuel Islamophobia immensely and perpetrate great damage.

The American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee says threats against Muslims in the U.S. has increased since its release.

Abed Ayoub, the national legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), told the Guardian that complaints from his organisation have skyrocketed the movie’s wide release – and $90m box-office take, an all-time high for the month of January.

“Great fucking movie and now I really want to kill some fucking ragheads,” read one tweet. […] “American sniper makes me wanna go shoot some fuckin Arabs,” read another.

One tweet read: “Nice to see a movie where the Arabs are portrayed for who they really are - vermin scum intent on destroying us.”

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has even sent letters to “American Sniper” star Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood, imploring them “to help reduce the hateful rhetoric,” according to USA Today. The group wrote that it has seen “hundreds of violent messages targeting Arabs and Muslims from moviegoers of the film.”

Media has a huge impact on the world. These threats are not to be taken lightly. These are real people capable of committing atrocities against Muslims and their mindset has been influenced by the film American Sniper. That is a fact and it’s not a joke. Understanding the effects of media on society is just as important as understanding that Chris Kyle took no remorse in shooting people.

Provide them with the startling facts about the casualties of war.

In Iraq, over 70 percent of those who died of direct war violence have been civilians. Iraq Body Count conservatively estimates that at least 133,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence due to war between the invasion and early May 2014.

The war in Afghanistan continues taking and destroying lives, both due to the direct consequences of violence and the war-induced breakdown of public health, security, and infrastructure. Civilians have been killed by crossfire, improvised explosive devices, assassination, bombing, and night raids into houses of suspected insurgents. Unexploded ordnance from previous wars and from US cluster bombs continue to kill even in the absence of fighting.

Hospitals in Afghanistan are treating large numbers of war wounded, including amputees and burn victims. The war has also inflicted invisible wounds. In 2009, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health said fully two-thirds of Afghans suffer mental health problems.

At least 20,000 civilians killed in Afghanistan.

Clearly, the U.S. has caused many, many casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq since the wars started and have disregarded the people they have inadvertently affected by displacement, health care breakdowns, and more.

There’s very good article written by Joshua Brollier in The Palestine Chronicle that you could read called “No More Truthless Heroes: Glorifying the Chris Kyle Story”.

Mr. Kyle was a man who professed “no regret” for killing 160 people during his four tours in Iraq.

The belligerent and misplaced aggression and ensuing chaos after the 2003 Iraq invasion led to hundreds of thousands of casualties (over a million by some calculations) and the largest refugee crisis in the region since the Nakba, with over 4 million Iraqis being displaced from their homes. In addition to the many thousands of Afghan casualties, more than a decade of crushing warfare and billions of dollars per week being spent on the effort, Afghans have been “perishing under one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. At least 36% live below the poverty line and 35% of Afghan men do not have work. The UN calls the acute malnutrition of nearly one million children in the Afghan south ‘shocking’. Almost three quarters of all Afghans do not have access to safe drinking water.”

Given these appalling truths, I am not inclined to write off the immense suffering we have caused around the globe as a necessity or reframe it as victory, nor to join in the popular declarations that Mr. Romesha and Mr. Kyle were heroes. I don’t want to demonize them either. They are part of an imperial system to which many in the US are deeply tied and unquestioningly support with tax dollars. Quite possibly Mr. Kyle was a “family man” to his circle and a loyal friend to his comrades. But can we really honor him as such when he was willing to rob Iraqi families of their fathers and sons?

Even as he may have initially been deceived into thinking Sadaam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, how could he extend payback to the entire Iraqi population and return for three additional tours without questioning this logic, which was so full of holes that even the Bush administration gave up on defending it? If you are going to take a life, wouldn’t you want to know with the highest certainty why you were doing so? No, this is not a hero.

This does a really good job of articulating how incredibly devastating war is. I think a really important part of understanding why American Sniper is a bad film is understanding why these wars are wrong and their horrendous effects. Also, my favorite part of the article is when Joshua Brollier asks how we can honor a man as a family man when he destroyed Iraqi families. He makes a good point about not reframing devastation as a U.S. victory.

They have to understand that this is indeed a propaganda type film. Propaganda, noun: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

It explicitly continues the idea that all Muslims are bad and deserve to die. This is a point that Chris Kyle himself made loud and clear. Countless innocent civilians have been murdered in Iraq, and some of them actually by snipers. Kyle is not absolved of guilt because he is a sniper. There is a huge possibility that many of his recorded kills are civilian lives. Note: recorded kills. Not all kills in Iraq and Afghanistan are recorded.

The bottom line is, Chris Kyle is not a hero. He didn’t care about who he killed. He had fun. He had the time of his life stealing lives. There are plenty of soldiers who go and fight because they truly want America to be safe. Just as there are plenty of cops who get up every morning and want to protect people and arrest law breakers. But just as there are bad cops, there are bad soldiers.

Your job is not what makes you a hero. Having a gun strapped on you and firing it doesn’t mean you’re saving lives. Actively participating in something dangerous doesn’t make you brave. It’s what you do with it that makes you a hero. It’s a matter of seeing all lives as valuable and worth protecting, not nationalism and a sense of entitlement.

American Sniper is not a beautiful masterpiece. It is a sad, Islamophobic propaganda film that perpetuates the belief that all Muslims are wolves to be hunted down and killed for the sake of precious American lives.

Some more information:
This UN report shows that women's rights in the US are an international embarrassment - Vox

’…issues, like women’s economic inequality, are deeply concerning and should be better in such a wealthy nation, the UN delegates said. Wage inequality for women persists into their vulnerable old age, and poverty literally kills women with higher maternal mortality rates and greater vulnerability to domestic violence.
And still other issues, the report says, fall demonstrably short of international human rights standards. The delegates were “shocked” by the lack of workplace accommodations for pregnant and postnatal women, for instance. The US falls afoul of international human rights law on a broad range of issues, from failing to mandate equal pay for equal work to unjustly criminalizing prostitution. And particularly vulnerable women like domestic workers and undocumented immigrants face inexcusable levels of wage theft, abuse, and lack of access to health care.‘

So how do communities with limited electricity and running water in Ethiopia reduce infant mortality and dramatically improve newborn and maternal health?  With a system designed by Ethiopians for Ethiopia, and a lot of amazingly dedicated health extension workers and volunteers. (The tier system is explained in the first picture.) I’m obviously no expert, but from what I could tell the nonprofit funding worked precisely because it was helping people execute their vision, rather than trying to impose a strategy upon them.

Today, I visited a health center and then a health outpost, a small structure with no electricity serving a community of around 5,000. The Outpost (picture two) was staffed by two women who can do everything from treat malaria to deliver babies. They have a detailed and systematic approach (those files in picture three contain information about every family in their area), but they rely on the volunteer Women’s Health Care Army to provide education, prenatal care, and family planning assistance, among many other things, to every family in the area. It was fascinating to start my journey at a facility that can do Caesarean sections and then follow the health care system into individual residences, where a woman can talk directly to someone she trusts about prenatal vitamins, contraception, and breastfeeding. 

The health challenges here in Ethiopia are massive, obviously, but these volunteers are a big part of the reason that Ethiopia’s infant and maternal mortality rates are dropping so dramatically.

You’ll meet several of them in a forthcoming video, but I just wanted to share the amazingness of today’s experience.

Photo by Sa'adia Khan

One woman dies nearly every hour in Pakistan from complications of giving birth. The maternal mortality rate is even higher in Balochistan than the rest of the country. The largest but least populated province has some of the lowest national developmental indicators. A third of the women marry before reaching 15 and two thirds of them are illiterate. Only three out of ten pregnant women deliver their babies with skilled attendants present at the scene. And this can be fatal. MSF tries to mitigate this reality running maternal healthcare programmes in four projects in Baluchistan (Chaman, Quetta, Kuchlak and Dera Murad Jamali).

In Dera Murad Jamali, MSF provides comprehensive emergency obstetric care, neonatal and pediatric inpatient care, basic health care, and nutrition services at the District Headquarter Hospital. Here, women walk to the Ambulatory Therapeutic Feeding Center with their children.

Yes, we’ve cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many woman are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper.

Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.

Women’s rights in Rwanda have progressed hugely since the genocide 20 years ago. Sixty-four percent of parliamentarians are women – the highest proportion of any parliament in the world – and as many girls as boys receive primary and secondary education. 

But despite encouraging progress in education and falling maternal mortality and birth rates, in rural areas the poorest citizens tend to be women, often genocide survivors.

“We are not blind to the progress that has been made, but the women we work with are excessively poor,” says a women’s rights advocate. “And increasingly, we see the poorest are women – women are beginning to have a monopoly on poverty.”

Learn more about the huge strides Rwanda has made, along with the challenges it still faces.

It’s been 13 years since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and women still fear the fundamentalist group’s control over their rights, but amidst the fear is hope. “I’m sure my daughter will be a very good doctor in the future,” one Afghan woman proudly said. Other women voiced more ambivalence about their futures, especially in the provinces of Afghanistan where women have even less rights than in the cities. The Taliban have been known to burn schools and sexually assault girls who go out alone.

Despite the violence and threats, there have been advances for Afghan women, such as a midwife training program at Rabia Balkhi Hospital that has decreased the maternal mortality rate. First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani said that the women of Afghanistan must convince men that women are their partners and that they strengthen men, not weaken them.

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