Since I came to Congress, I have worked hard to improve the lives of women and children around the world. One specific effort is to reduce the incidence of obstetric fistula, a devastating condition that results from prolonged labor without medical attention.
More than two million women worldwide have obstetric fistula resulting from prolonged labor without medical attention. The pressure created internally on a woman from this obstructed delivery kills tissue and a hole develops between the woman’s vagina and rectum, leaving the woman without control of her bladder and and/or bowels for the rest of her life without treatment. It often results in the death of the infant. Many women with obstetric fistula are abandoned by their husbands and families because they are considered "unclean". Left without support, the women are often forced to beg or turn to prostitution to survive.
Obstetric fistula is preventable through medical interventions such as skilled birth attendants during labor and childbirth, providing access to family planning, and emergency obstetric care for women who develop complications as well as social interventions such as delaying early marriage and educating and empowering young women. Surgical repair has enabled many women and girls to physically recover from an obstetric fistula, but an estimated 2 million more women and girls are currently struggling with the devastating impact of an obstetric fistula and tens of thousands of additional cases continue to occur each year. I have introduced bipartisan legislation that authorizes aid to multilateral partners such as UNFPA and the Campaign to End Obstetric Fistula and to bilateral organizations such as USAID to aid in the prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula in foreign countries.
I support a comprehensive approach to end obstetric fistula – prevention to eliminate occurrences, treatment to repair those women who already suffer, and rehabilitation to help those recovering fully heal and reenter society. It focuses on efforts to build local capacity and improve national systems to prevent and treat obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula is devastating; but does not have to be life-shattering. The Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act provides hope and a healthy future.
03/28/2011- H.R.949, Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope, and Dignity Restoration Act of 2011 [112th Congress]
05/27/10 - H.R. 5441, Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope, and Dignity Restoration Act of 2010 [111th Congress]