July 14, 2011 ( – Health organizations worldwide unanimously agree on the necessity of reducing the tragedy of high maternal mortality in Africa – what they disagree on, however, is the best approach for dealing with the crises, with many of the world’s top organizations (including the UN) promoting abortion and contraception as the antidote.


In an effort to combat this radical “reproductive health” agenda, a U.S.-based group called Maternal Life International (MLI) is promoting a pro-life response to the tragedy, focused on ethically addressing the primary causes of maternal deaths by providing training and medical resources.

Spearheaded by Dr. George Mulcaire-Jones, president of MLI, and Dr. Robert Scanlon, MLI’s director of medical programs, the Safe Passages program was born in 2003.

“Every mother and baby should be entitled to a safe passage: to a pregnancy and birth free of death, free of serious injury, and free of the HIV virus,” states the organization.

The goal of the program is to “maximize the life, health, and well-being of a mother and her baby” through efforts that respect human life and dignity and “prioritizes those interventions most likely to reduce maternal and newborn deaths,” they say.

According to a recent article by Mulcaire-Jones and Scanlon, women in Africa die from five major causes: hypertensive diseases, obstructed labor, hemorrhage, sepsis and infection, and HIV-related diseases. According to the most recent data, maternal mortality is 640 per 100,000 live births in Africa, compared to a rate of 14 per 100,000 in developed countries.

Since vast international resources support the “reproductive health” agenda rather than improving obstetrical care, MLI doctors claim, the root causes of maternal mortality are not addressed. They plan to turn that paradigm around.

The Safe Passages “equation” for combating maternal mortality highlights three main components: respect for persons, safe births, and fertility literacy.

“The woman in labor is cared for as a gift rather than as a ‘problem’ or a ‘burden’…No woman, regardless of her economic class, religion, or tribal affiliation is ever treated rudely or brusquely,” a description of the program states.

Safe Passages targets the five major causes of maternal mortality by providing training for those conditions that lead to perinatal deaths.  Through these trainings the program works to ensure participants and organizations are inspired, educated, equipped, and evaluated.

In addition, the program seeks to educate couples in fertility literacy or natural means of family planning that emphasize communication between the spouses, and teaches and supports breast-feeding, healthy child spacing, and proper nutrition and care during pregnancy.

At the first trainings in 2003, MLI doctors trained over five hundred obstetrical providers in Nigeria.  Over the course of the next six years, they expanded the curriculum to include neonatal resuscitation, antiretroviral therapy for HIV-positive pregnant women and root-cause analysis of maternal mortality.

Most recently, in 2009 the program was established in Sierra Leone, which had the highest maternal morality rate at the time.  They are working to develop a distance-learning mechanism for wider distribution of the Safe Passages model throughout Africa.

The goal, say the MLI doctors, is that Safe Passages will be “a model health-care development program: one which is person-centered, evidence- based, and life-affirming.”

To read the full-text article and background on Safe Passages, click here.

To learn more about Maternal Life International, click here.