Michele Goodwin Pitches Reproductive Justice to Congress

A UC Irvine School of Law professor is taking part in a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., concerning reproductive health and maternal mortality.

Michele Goodwin is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at UCI Law as well as the founder and director of the Reproductive Justice Initiative, which comes from the law school’s Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy. The initiative engages in the cross-disciplinary study of urgent legal, medical, social and human rights issues affecting the lives of women and children around the globe, focusing on four key capacity-building areas: security and safety; health and human rights; incarceration; and education.

Initiative participants work with faculty, students, staff, advocates, policy makers, civil society and community members throughout California, the country and the world, according to the university.

Here is why organizers say today’s event is vital:

The United States has the worst maternal death rate in the developed world. According to federal statistics, American women are safer giving birth in many developing countries than in the United States. While most nations have met the World Health Organization’s maternal health benchmarks, the United States has tragically fallen behind. It now ranks No. 50 in the world in maternal health and safety. According to recent studies, Texas is the deadliest place in the developed world for a woman to give birth.

The briefing at the House Visitors Center is broken into two parts, which Goodwin participating in the second.

Here is the breakdown:

The Erosion of Reproductive Health and Rights (12:10 p.m.)
Linda Goler Blount, president & CEO, Black Women’s Health Imperative
Michele E. Gilman , Venable Professor of Law, University of Baltimore
Khiara Bridges, Professor, Boston University School of Law and School of Anthropology
Georgeanne Usova, ACLU Legislative Counsel
Bethany Van Kampen, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

The United States: Deadliest Place in Developed World to Give Birth (12:45 p.m.) 
Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, UCI Law; founder and director, Reproductive Justice Initiative
Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, president & CEO, National Birth Equity Collaborative
Monica McLemore, assistant professor, University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing
Dr. Carolyn Sufrin, assistant professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Goodwin and her colleagues say that women in the United States, more than in any other developed nation, stand the risk of death and disabilities during their pregnancies and childbirths. “Tellingly, pregnant women in Iran, Bahrain, Serbia and Bosnia are more likely to survive their pregnancies by comparison to women in the United States,” according to organizers.

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