This Reuters article reports on ten women who died this week in India through botched sterilizations. Fourteen other women are in serious condition.
But deaths due to sterilization is not news in India.
Between 2009 and 2012, the government paid compensation for 568 deaths resulting from sterilization, the health ministry said in an answer to a question in parliament two years ago.
What grieves me most is that these women were undergoing sterilizations presumably because they already had children and couldn’t afford to have more. That means that there are countless little children who have lost their mothers, in a country that is already hampered by disease and poverty. What will the prospects be for their lives now?
Essentially these mothers have perished and their children’s lives have been substantially impoverished all because of ignorance; ignorance of the benefits and the life saving potential of Natural Family Planning.
We need to take a page out of the book of a little Saint, Mother Teresa.
Rather than trying to secure funds for condoms, hormonal contraception, clinics, and medical personnel to run the clinics, the Missionaries of Charity (the religious order founded by Mother Teresa) simply taught the people Natural Family Planning (NFP).
Most people roll their eyes at the mere suggestion of NFP, but wait, do they know about the successes of this simple, easy to learn method in some of the poorest nations of the world? In 1993, the British Medical Journal published a study regarding the effectiveness of NFP in India.*
This blogger writes regarding this very study:
In India, where the poor learned NFP and relied on abstinence during the fertile phase, a study of 19,483 poor women had a pregnancy rate of less than 1%.
Further to that, she confirms what the Reuters article made obvious; that women are coerced into receiving these dangerous sterilizations through various means. NFP however, seems not only to empower women to understand how their bodies work, but it also exempts them from government pressure.
The benefits they received went beyond the ability to plan their family size, however. Mercedes Wilson tells of how women in India would be dragged away and forcibly sterilized against their will. Women could be spared this violation, however, by carrying a card with them that stated they used NFP. In this instance, not only were the poor empowered with the knowledge of their own bodies, its use also protected them against government abuse.
*R.E.J. Ryder, “‘Natural Family Planning’: Effective Birth Control Supported by the Catholic Church,” British Medical Journal. 307 (18 September 1993).