Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights | June 2015
Posted on

Often seen as a public health concern, the issue of maternal mortality and morbidity must also be understood as a matter of human rights. International human rights treaties have clarified States’ obligations in relation to maternal mortality and morbidity and recognized violations of women’s rights to life, to the highest attainable standard of health, and to equality and non-discrimination in this regard.

A maternal death is “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy… from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes.” The main causes of maternal death include severe bleeding, infection, unsafe abortion, high blood pressure, and prolonged or obstructed labour. Most maternal deaths and disabilities can be prevented through effective interventions and care during pregnancy and delivery.