“Making Life: A Risky Proposition” — A Diane Sawyer “20/20” Special

ABC News Continues Its Year-Long Global Health Series By Examining The Most Dangerous Thing A Woman Can Do: Why So Many Women Are Dying During Pregnancy And Childbirth

New York, NY

December 12, 2011


Megan Rabbitt

The numbers are staggering: every 90 seconds, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth — that’s about 1,000 women a day. Yet experts say that more than 80% of these deaths are totally preventable if only the mothers-to-be received proper medical care. At the bottom of the list, countries like Afghanistan, with its child brides, and Sierra Leone, which has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. The U.S. ranks surprisingly low in the industrialized world — number 41 on the maternal mortality list. It is an issue that experts all over the world say is “unforgiveable” because even the most basic medicine and intervention could prevent the majority of these deaths.

Diane Sawyer and a team of ABC News correspondents, including Deborah Roberts and Dr. Richard Besser, travel the globe to shed light on this “international crime” as part of ABC’s News’ year-long global health series. “Making Life: A Risky Proposition,” an eye-opening hour report on challenges faced by mothers in developing countries, as well as low-cost, low-tech solutions that can help save millions of lives, airs on a Diane Sawyer “20/20” Special on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16 (10:00 – 11:00 pm ET) on the ABC Television Network.

“There is so much we can do together — so many simple ways for us all to link arms to help every mother and child have a chance to lead a healthy life,” said Diane Sawyer, who was shocked by the slow pace of medical progress in the  many years she has reported on women in Afghanistan. We talk to people who are dedicated to saving women’s lives: midwives and doctors in the field;  New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and Christy Turlington Burns, model turned activist after she herself experienced hemorrhaging in childbirth. We also follow a young pregnant obstetrician who has volunteered for maternal health programs around the world, for an American doctor’s perspective on the crisis in Sierra Leone. The special also includes a report by Deborah Roberts from Bangladesh, a country which has seen a dramatic improvement in health outcomes for pregnant women in part as a result of the introduction of cell phone technology. Dr. Richard Besser reports from Mexico on the dramatic impact that family planning has had on improving the lives of women and their children.

The Million Moms Challenge ,a partnership of ABC News and the United Nations Foundation, is a call to action to engage a million Americans with a million moms oversees around issues that impact pregnancy, childbirth and children’s health. You can like the Million Moms Challenge on Facebook or follow @AMillionMoms on Twitter and use the hash-tag #AmillionMoms. The Million Moms Challenge is part of ABC News’ year-long global health series, “Be the Change: Save a Life” sponsored in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The series, which launched December 17, 2010, has focused on health conditions endured by the poorest of the poor and some of the innovative solutions designed to help them. ABC News viewers have donated over $1,000,000 to organizations featured throughout the year that are making a difference around the globe. (Click here to watch)

ABC News Media Relations:

Alyssa Ziegler Apple (212) 456-1624, alyssa.z.apple@abc.com
David Ford (212) 456-7243, david.ford@abc.com