Maloney Reintroduces Bill to Aid International Prevention and Treatment of Obstetric Fistula

Feb 16, 2018
Press Release
As Trump Admin defunds key global women’s health initiatives, Maloney fights for needed aid

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) today reintroduced legislation that would assist the estimated two million women worldwide suffering from obstetric fistula – a preventable and treatable condition resulting from prolonged labor in the absence of skilled medical assistance. The Congresswoman has introduced some iteration of The Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act since 2004.

“More than 2 million women worldwide suffer with obstetric fistula. Aside from the physical and psychological effects of this condition and the stillbirth that commonly results from it, mothers with fistulas are often ostracized by their families.  No woman should have to suffer through this, and the United States should take a lead role in efforts to eradicate obstetric fistula. Unfortunately, the actions of the Trump Administration have callously restricted access to healthcare for women and children around the world, putting them unnecessarily at risk. Obstetric fistula is devastating, life-shattering, and completely preventable. This legislation outlines a comprehensive approach to improve treatment of and education about fistula and combat the conditions that lead to fistulas. These steps are critical to help mothers around the world realize brighter, healthier futures.

“The Trump Administration, through its reinstatement of the global gag rule and decision to cut off funds to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is ignoring our responsibilities to the global community. UNFPA provides maternal care for women living in regions plagued by conflict or disaster and is a major partner in the fight against obstetric fistula, and we need to do our part to fund their efforts. Lives are depending on it.”


The Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act of 2018 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 prenatal 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.