Apr 27, 2016

Bishop Peggy Johnson has joined other bishops in signing a letter to Congress prepared by the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) as part of its new Mother’s Day campaign to help end the unnecessary deaths of mothers and infants globally.  The goal of the campaign is to encourage more members of Congress to support and pass the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. GBCS plans to send the letter to members of Congress on Wednesday, May 4.

The Reach Act is bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate that increases the coordination and implementation of low cost, high-impact strategies demonstrated to prevent the death of women during pregnancy and childbirth and the deaths of newborns and young children from causes such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Read the copy of the intended letter below to learn more about the legislation.

In addition to the letter from Bishops to each chamber of Congress, GBCS will have an online action alert for United Methodists to contact their members of Congress as well as postcards for people to fill out during General Conference, Annual Conferences and other local settings. Susan Burton, Director of Women’s and Children’s Advocacy, is leading the effort. Bishop Johnson serves on the GBCS board.

Dear Senator,

We, as Bishops of The United Methodist Church, are writing to ask you to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths worldwide. As United Methodists, we know that “women are crying out for not only their own survival but also the survival of their families and communities.” (2012 UM Book of Resolutions, “Maternal Health: The Church’s Role”).

As people of faith led by Christ’s call that all may have abundant life, we are committed to saving and improving the lives of mothers and children around the world. We, therefore, ask for your support of S. 1911, the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE). Such legislation aims to accelerate U.S. efforts, in partnership with country governments and the private sector, to end preventable maternal and child deaths by the year 2035.

Today, 17,000 children and 800 mothers will die from otherwise preventable causes.  A lack of proper nutrition, access to prenatal and postnatal health services, skilled delivery during childbirth, clean water and knowledge on timing and spacing of pregnancies are all contributing factors to these death-dealing conditions.

With 12 million members worldwide, The United Methodist Church worships and works alongside our brothers and sisters around the world, to improve care for pregnant mothers and newborns. We identify and train frontline health workers, provide improved nutrition and sanitation, and educate local communities and people of faith about the importance of investing in global maternal and child health. Therefore, we affirm the goal of The Reach Act to focus on the poorest and most vulnerable populations and work with health care providers on the ground to identify unique challenges and assets within different countries and communities.

The United States has led the way in improving the lives of mothers and children and building the capacity of countries to ensure all people reach their full potential. Through these efforts, we have seen tremendous progress, but our work remains unfinished. Our faith calls us to continue until we reach every mother and child.

We pray you will join us to end these unnecessary deaths by cosponsoring the Reach Every Mother and Child Act and encouraging your colleagues to do so as well.  We believe that it is our moral obligation as a country to stand in solidarity with these communities.

Photo: Midwife Marie Manga Dikoma uses a Pinard horn to listen to the heartbeat of Cecile Iatu’s unborn baby at The United Methodist Church’s Irambo Health Center in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS