A recent report identifies that the Millennium Development Goals in the area of maternal death are woefully off target. This critical issue is something that is often overlooked when health policies and practices are being implemented in international development. This absence is a a crucial one and one that I can't honestly understand. As has been noted by distinguished authors like Amartya Sen, health costs are much lower in countries that are just implementing health policies. This is because the initial steps taken to set up a clinic or extend the range of health care professionals in most developing countries is much smaller.
Another important aspect that is identified in the article is the estimated twenty million unsafe abortions that go on every year. This is a significant contributing factor to maternal death. Safe, legal, and accessible abortions are something that must exist as the need for them is always there. The article does not identify how many of these unsafe abortions are actually illegal but it can be assumed that many unsafe abortions are the result of nation wide bans on abortions. This forces all women, even those who have life threatening pregnancies, to have a "back-alley" abortion.
The report concludes that one reason for such little progress is that in many societies women are viewed as nothing more than a vessel for reproduction. This extremely disheartening conclusion indicates the importance of positive action on behalf of women all over the world to increase their status. Cultural relativism must have its place in discussion of international development, but it cannot be used as a tool to allow domination of marginalized populations.