The RI Calls on Religious Leaders to Speak Out About Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Justice


Rev. Debra W. Haffner
(203) 222-0055


WESTPORT, CT, September 15, 2010 – The Religious Institute today issued a call to the nation’s religious leaders to raise a prophetic voice about maternal mortality worldwide and promote universal access to reproductive health services.

The Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Justice, developed by a group of clergy, theologians and ethicists recognizes that “access to sexual and reproductive health services is a matter of life and death.”  Every ninety seconds, somewhere in the world a woman dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.  The Open Letter declares, “No woman should lose her life to create a new one.”  All women and men must have access to a full range of reproductive health services, including contraception, prenatal care, and safe abortion and post-abortion care.

The Open Letter calls on religious leaders to:

  • Educate themselves and their faith communities about the crisis of maternal mortality.
  • Publicly advocate for increased support for maternal health and reproductive health services, domestically and globally.
  • Work within their traditions to make the reduction of preventable maternal mortality a social justice issue.

“As the United Nations General Assembly gathers in New York on September 20-22nd to discuss the status of the Millennium Development Goals, it is essential to recognize that people of all faiths support that the sacredness of life is best upheld when women and men create life intentionally and women are able to have healthy pregnancies and childbirths,” said the Rev. Debra W. Haffner, Executive Director of the Religious Institute.  “Surely it is common ground for people of faith to work to create a world where no woman will die giving birth to the next generation.”

The Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Maternal Mortality and Reproductive Justice was developed at a colloquium sponsored by the Religious Institute.  Participants represented a
diverse range of religious perspectives, including Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant and Unitarian Universalist, from the United States, Latin America, and Africa.  The full text of the Open Letter is available on the Religious Institute website. The Religious Institute today launched a campaign to have religious leaders endorse the new Open Letter.

The Religious Institute, based in Westport, CT, is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith communities and society.  More than 5,100 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national network.


The Open Letter Full Text

Endorse the new Open Letter

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