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For Mother’s Day, the organization, Save the Children, published its 13th annual State of the World’s Mothers report. I heard about the report, read a couple of articles on it at the time, but then picked up a copy at BlogHer in August, thought it was fascinating all over again, and then promptly forgot about it until I found it again last night.

“The focus is on the 171 million children globally who do not have the opportunity to reach their full potential due to the physical and mental effects of poor nutrition in the earliest months of life.”

171 million? That is SOOOOOO many children. And SOOOOO devastatingly sad!

Right now there is a big push by radical right wing politicians in the U.S. to take away a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. But there are 171 million children who, because of extreme poverty, are not getting their needs met.

Who is fighting so adamantly to have those 171 million children taken care of?

Who is standing up and saying that no one in this world, no adult, no child, no one should go hungry? Few really do.

There must be a responsibility within us all to care for the people who are here.

The 2011 report said this: “Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom countries are grim. On average, 1 woman in 30 will die from pregnancy-related causes. one child in 6 dies before his or her fifth birthday, and 1 child in 3 suffers from malnutrition. Nearly 50 percent of the population lacks access to safe water and only 4 girls for every 5 boys are enrolled in primary school.” Not much has changed in a year. The 2012 report shows what continues to be shown- that things must change. This is not “survival of the fittest,” it is a social problem that can be changed. Maybe not overnight, but more quickly.

When comparing Norway and Afganistan, the gap in availability of maternal and child health services is large.

In the introduction of Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mother’s Report, they write:

“Every year, our State of the World’s Mothers report reminds us of the inextricable link between the well-being of mothers and their children. More than 90 years of experience on the ground have shown us that when mothers have health care, education and economic opportunity, both they and their children have the best chance to survive and thrive.”

Right now, poor women in America are faring better than in nations considered to be developing nations, but still, women in America are at risk and we see in other countries the dangers women face from lack of resources, rights, education, and healthcare.

The United States ranked 25th this year for Best Places to be a mother and 31st in 2011– and “in the industrialized world, the United States has the least favorable environment for mothers who want to breastfeed.” For Best Places to be a Mother, Norway was 1st, the U.K. was 10th. Afganistan was 164th and last was Niger at 165th. The places ranking highest performed well on all indicators for mother’s and children’s health.

There is most definitely a link between a mother’s health and children’s health.

First, as a society here in the U.S. and as a global society, we must take care of women. This is not just women who may or will have children. It is all women. If we do not take care of women, I don’t believe we value children or anyone other than ourselves. It must be important to us to care for all people.

Second, taking care of our people makes us stronger, happier, and less likely to need to spend money on healthcare because we are sick. What if we start from a place of strength, a wellness plan, a push for health rather than a groan when we have to pay for the illnesses of our people? If we were to emphasize health and really work to care for everyone, healthcare would cost less, but healthcare is a business that profits right now when people are sick. Should it be like that?

The report says: “Children benefit when mothers live longer, healthier lives.” Yes they do. Of course they do. But we all do. We all benefit because who will physically care for children when their mothers die? Who will emotionally care for children when their mothers die?

The number of children a woman has, the spacing of the births as well as the conditions under which she gives birth and her own nutritional and health status affect her life expectancy as well as maternal mortality.

Birth control allows for women’s freedom in many areas, but also in the area of health. It allows women to decide whether they want children or not and to space out their children in a way that will most benefit her, her health, her partner, the family, the child.

A woman is in charge of her life and health and knows when she cannot have a child, if she gets pregnant, this may result in her deciding whether or not to have an abortion. It is an option and always will be, even if it were to be overturned. To prevent more maternal deaths and work to take care of the people here on this planet, we must keep it a safe option that women can access. It must be an option for women’s health. For women, for mothers, for children, and for babies.

Women’s health must be a priority and wasn’t even addressed in the presidential debates. Worldwide and in the United States, women’s health must be a priority. There are people, my aunt included, who believe the U.S. has a wonderful healthcare system. Others see the flaws and understand how poorly the system works for women and families overall.

We’re up to 25th in the world from 31st last year in 2011, but we still have a long way to go. Let’s not be stopped by politics from taking care of women and of our entire population, let’s demand it be better.