11. Who Makes the Rules? Abortion: Law, Metaphysics, and Moral Neutrality [Ethics at the Edge...]
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Mothers' rights movements have formed in various areas, focusing on workplace issues (labor rights), breast-feeding, and rights in family law. A number of organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), are working to improve mother's rights and lower maternal (and infant) mortality around the world.
The WHO and UNICEF produced the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (Marketing Code), the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, and the Innocenti Declaration (of 1990). These three actions are the international standards that many countries (over 65% of the 192 WHO member states) have enacted into their national laws. There are only nine countries in the WHO that have not taken action on the Marketing Code to give it effect. The U.S. is one of those nine. The Marketing Code is used to combat false and aggressive advertising tactics infant formula companies use to sell formula, including giving away just enough free formula that the breastmilk of new mothers dry up, falsely telling mothers they will not be able to produce enough breast milk to breastfeed their children, and falsely advertising that formula-fed children are smarter than breastfed children. The WHO has compared the current tactics by these companies, mostly U.S. based, to the tactics that led to the Nestlé boycott in 1977.
The year 2007 marks the 30th anniversary of the Nestlé boycott and the 20th anniversary of the Global Safe Motherhood Conference. In October 2007, the third decennial (occurring every ten years) conference will be held, entitled "Women Deliver."
In the United States, unpaid family leave for 12 weeks is guaranteed for most employees of major companies by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Flexible working hours may be arranged by individuals with no assistance from the government. Childcare can cost more than tuition at a public university. In some states (notably Pennsylvania) a woman can be turned down for a job because she is a mother. There is currently a movement towards improving this situation which is focusing on improving the situation state by state.
The National Partnership for Women & Families and other organizations have advocated for longer maternity leave and fairness in the workplace for mothers. The United States lags behind most other nations in granting paid maternity leave. Most countries guarantee paid leave, with many offering more than 3 months paid leave, the U.S. doesn't guarantee a single day of paid leave.
The U.S. has very high rates of Caesarean section, epidural, and induction. In addition, the U.S. has large numbers of formula-fed infants (and thus lower numbers of breastfed children). The combination of these statistics has unfortunately resulted in relatively high infant and maternal mortality rates for an industrialized nation. The United States is currently rated below 35 other countries in the world in terms of infant mortality. The U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Portugal, Cuba, Taiwan, Aruba, and many others, including most of Europe.
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