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Reducing pregnancy deaths will need money to back up Carr’s words

On the eve of the London Family Planning Summit, Greens Senator and overseas aid spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said she will be looking for a substantial financial pledge to back up Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s commitment in The Lancet today to reduce maternal mortality in low-income countries.

It is expected that countries will make commitments to a series of family planning recommendations at tomorrow's London Family Planning Summit, hosted by the UK Government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The Greens welcome Minister Carr’s commitment to reduce the number of women dying from unplanned pregnancies but the proof of the pudding will be in the funding commitments that the Australian government put on the table”, said Senator Rhiannon.

“The leading cause of death for girls between 15 – 19 years old in developing countries is pregnancy. Governments can save lives by prioritising programs that give women in low-income countries the ability to choose if, when and how many children they want to have.

“In budget estimates in May I questioned AusAID about the amount of money going to sexual and reproductive health and the response suggested that AusAID sees this work as a small subset of maternal health.

“AusAID’s funding for reproductive and sexual health programs sits at $28 million for 2012/13, a small proportion the $1.6 billion AusAID expects to allocate to women and children’s health between 2010 – 2015.

“Following Minister Carr’s comments, the Greens hope that Minister Carr will use the London Family Planning Summit to ramp up the funds going specifically to sexual and reproductive health.

“Getting contraception out to the women will require more than just investment in contraceptives and technical delivery through large multilateral organisations. In any increased funding commitment, I urge AusAID to recognise the important role civil society can play in removing the social and political barriers to accessing contraceptives", said Senator Rhiannon.

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