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Pregnancy kills a million teen girls every year, a new report by Save The Children says. Babies whose moms are under 18 are 60 percent more likely to die, while maternal deaths happen five times more often in moms who are younger than 15. In industrialized western countries, teenage pregnancies are seen as a big social problem that can be fought with the right policies. Not so in many developing countries, where teenagers are intentionally being married off, and are expected to produce offspring very soon after their wedding. Save The Children noted that "10 million girls under 18 are married every year, or more than 25,000 every day". The report said that 80 million such pregnancies are estimated to occur every year.

Are cultural prejudices responsible for the fact that most western parents feel very sorry for every girl under 18 who gets pregnant intentionally or unintentionally? Shouldn't we just respect other cultures, in which these girls are seen as grown ups, and teenage pregnancy as just the same as any other pregnancy? The report gives very serious medical reasons to wait until adulthood to have children: "A woman's lifetime risk of maternal death the probability that a 15 year old girl will ultimately die from a maternal cause is 1 in 3,800 in developed countries but 1 in 150 in developing countries." The report is called "Every woman's right". That refers to birth control "How family planning saves children's rights" is the second part of it's title. Besides the grim statistics on the fate of teenage girls who get pregnant, and their babies, the report also says that babies who are born within two years of a sibling have double the risk of dying within their first year of life.

Two fifths of births in the developing world were unintended, Save The Children says. The organization is continuing their fight to help girls and women gain access to birth control. This will save lives, they say, but it is also a fundamental right, the report holds. The full report is available from Save The Children online. If you've read it, what do you think about it? For me, the most shocking part of the document was one page where a 12 year old Pakistani girl was pictured. She was pregnant, and told her story Kali got her first period after being married, but had no idea what it was and her 18 year old husband had to tell her. Two months later, she was thrilled to be pregnant, until her relatives explained that pregnancy could be risky at such a young age.

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