Maloney bill would aid international prevention and treatment of Obstetric Fistula

Dec 1, 2015
Press Release
Bill would authorize President to work with domestic and international organizations to help treat women suffering from obstetric fistula worldwide

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today reintroduced legislation to assist the more than two million women worldwide suffering from obstetric fistula – a preventable and treatable condition resulting from prolonged labor without medical attention.

The Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act of 2015 would authorize the President to support the work of international organizations, foreign governments and non-governmental organizations such as UNFPA and USAID in the fight to end obstetric fistula around the world. The bill also requires the President to report to Congress on progress made in this critical effort.

“More than 2 million women suffer with obstetric fistula, even though the condition can be addressed with a procedure that costs about $400,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “The United States should lead the global community to empower mothers and promote women’s rights worldwide through improved medical care and access to family planning services. Obstetric fistula is devastating, life-shattering, and completely preventable. This legislation enables a brighter future for mothers around the world.


The Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act of 2015 would help treat and prevent obstetric fistula by giving the President the authority to advance:

  • Education for women and medical practitioners worldwide about ways to prevent obstetric fistula. This would include topics such as appropriate ages for pregnancy, healthy spacing between pregnancies and comprehensive pre-natal care.
  • Medical interventions that can prevent fistula, such as skilled attendance during labor and childbirth and emergency obstetric care for women who experience complications during delivery.
  • Treatment by surgeons and medical professionals to repair fistulas for women in the developing world. Rehabilitation services to help women fully heal and reenter society

Obstetric fistula results from prolonged, obstructed delivery without skilled medical attendance. During delivery, the infant’s head presses against the woman’s pelvis, creating a hole that develops between the woman’s vagina and rectum leaving her without control of her bladder and/or bowels for the rest of her life if untreated. It often also results in a stillbirth. Many women with obstetric fistula are abandoned by their husbands and shunned by their families because they are considered "unclean." 90 percent of cases can be repaired with a surgical procedure.