As we have already highlighted several times on the Feminist Peace Network blog, maternal health care in the aftermath of the Pakistani flooding is a huge concern with estimates of some 500,000 pregnant women being impacted by the disaster. However, the wording in this article is disturbing:
(Dr Nighat) Shah, (secretary-general of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, Pakistan (SOGP)) says that at the very least, with many of the camps now being visited by health professionals, women there are benefiting from reproductive-health information that they would have otherwise missed. This, says the doctor, may help the women break free from what she calls the “death trap” of frequent pregnancies.
Now, says Shah, “We can provide them the much-needed family planning services”.
(Dr. Azra) Ahsan (of the National Committee for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health (NCMNH)) herself notes that with only 22 percent of married Pakistani women using a modern family-planning method, this may be an “opportune time” to introduce the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) to the women in the camps.
She does not think pills would be a successful intervention, reasoning, “They will either forget to take it, or when the dose finishes they may discontinue (taking it).”
Shah favours tubal ligation for those who already have more than three or four children. She even suggests offering counseling to women who come to deliver their babies at hospitals, and encouraging them to opt for ligation after their family is “complete”.
“When they return home,” says Shah, “their lives will hopefully be better off if such interventions are made.”
So because these women’s lives have been decimated by flooding, sterilization should be suggested? Aside from that smacking of sounding like population control, not maternal health care, many of these women have been displaced, their homes destroyed, they are living in refugee camps in very difficult conditions and it is being suggested that in addition to recovering from childbirth they are being asked to consider undergoing and recovering from elective surgery? The implications of this report are disturbing and should be investigated.