You could say I'm passionate about birth. I delivered both my children without medication (the second was a water birth) and am trained as a doula. While I'm aware that situations arise that require intervention, even surgery, to keep mother and baby safe, I'm unconvinced that our nation's high cesarean rate is justified, and I think there are plenty of reasons to actively promote more midwife-attended births, even home births. I'm grateful that for most U.S. women, highly skilled medical help is just around the corner, ready to step in should something go wrong. But I also believe that birth is safe.

Yet for lots of women in the world, birth isn't so safe. It's not just that high-tech help isn't around the corner. It's the whole nexus of social, cultural, and economic reasons that make birth a riskier prospect. It's that girls get married and pregnant too young. It's that they haven't been nourished during their growing years or pregnancies. It's that they hold hospitals and non-traditional birth attendants in suspicion. The result? A woman dies from a preventable pregnancy or childbirth complication about every two minutes.

In her directorial debut, No Woman No Cry, model Christy Turlington Burns tells the stories of some of these women. As a doula, a woman, and mom—and someone who counts fistula pioneer Catherine Hamlin as a heroine—I was excited to see Turlington's fame and fortune being wielded to bring global attention to these too-frequently forgotten women. The two-hour documentary aired earlier this month on the Oprah Winfrey Network, while a related album went on sale at Starbucks, most of the proceeds of which go back to Turlington's maternal health project, Every Woman Counts.

Unfortunately, in telling ...

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