Earlier this year I wrote about the important maternal mortality art work of Chicago-based artist and activist, Michelle Hartney and her plan to sew 1,200 hospital gowns for her performance art, MOTHER’S RIGHT — one for every woman who died in the US during childbirth in 2013.
Hartney will perform this piece on September 7th at the Daley Center in Chicago at Improving Birth’s “Liberate Labor” rally.”
Today she announced on Instagram that the 1200 gowns have been completed. The photo stuck out to me not only because the gowns are finished, but because 1200 women died during childbirth in America two years ago, the highest number of any developed nation.
A photo posted by Michelle (@michellehartneyart) on
While there is a national push to reduce maternal mortality numbers in the US, those numbers are still moving in the wrong direction as Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers, recently said in our interview in our Maternal Health Heroes series.
Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, social entrepreneur, model, and founder of Every Mother Counts. As a result of her global advocacy work she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Minds in 2013. Christy is a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors and on the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School. She holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and has studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A four-time marathon finisher, Christy resides in New York City where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children.
Jennifer James: We are impressed that you are helping to spread the word about maternal health and mortality in the Unites States. When did it occur to you that there is a maternal health crisis in America?
Christy Turlington Burns: Soon after experiencing a childbirth complication following the delivery of my first child, I learned that hundreds of thousands of pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths occur around the world every year. Yet, up to 98 percent of those deaths are preventable. Once I knew about these shocking statistics, I had to know why this was happening. This led me to make a documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry,” which examines the state of maternal health in four countries Tanzania, Guatemala, Bangladesh and the United States. While making the film, I learned that while 99% of these global deaths occur in developing countries, we lose three women per day in the U.S. too.
I have had the great pleasure of seeing two SOS Children’s Villages: one in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the other in Chicago, Illinois. While they are markedly different the premise is the same and that is to provide quality care with a loving family for children who have been orphaned or abandoned.
The SOS Children’s Village I visited in Chicago looks like many neighborhoods you might see anywhere in America, but it is made up of 17 single-family homes led by a Foster Parent with children who desperately need SOS Children’s Villages services. In fact, the Chicago Village is SOS Children’s Villages first urban village in the world. SOS Children’s Villages provides stable family homes for children who may not have parents at all or may have parents who are incapable of taking care of them properly.