Exploring Human Potential

Giving Thanks to Women, and Children, and Lives Filled With Promise.

Posted on | November 20, 2023 | Comments Off on Giving Thanks to Women, and Children, and Lives Filled With Promise.

Mike Magee

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, let’s give thanks for women, and children, and lives filled with promise.

One President who understood the power of promise more than many others was FDR. When he structured up “a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations…”, he memorably packaged the plan under the label, “The New Deal.”

With a heavy dose of humility and learned wisdom, he rose again eleven years later, on January 11, 1944, fifteen months before his death, and delivered the State of the Union Address as a Fireside Chat from the Oval Office in the White House.

His words once again were clear and ever lasting. He stated that the original Bill of Rights was “inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” One of the missing elements, he affirmed was a national health care system.

 “Necessitous men are not free men.”  The nation needed, he said,  a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.” 

Harvard-trained moral philosopher Susan Neiman PhD  recalled those words recently in calling for  “a commitment to universalism over tribalism, a firm distinction between justice and power, and a belief in the possibility of progress.”

She also recalled the work product of Eleanor Roosevelt who guided the creation of the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which she herself admits is to this day “a declaration that remains aspirational.” Signed by 150 nations, it remains the most translated document in the world.

Embedded in the declaration is a broad and inclusive definition of health. It reads “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The Roosevelts’ definition of “health” continues to guide the work of the March of Dimes , whose latest report on maternal and childhood health in America is disturbing, and sends an arrow through the heart of Article 25 in the Declaration which reads:

“Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

As the March of Dimes reported, “the U.S. remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth with early data from the CDC showing a 3% increase in infant mortality in 2022.” 10.4% of babies last year were born prematurely before 37 weeks gestation. Compare that with the U.K. (7.6%), Italy (6.8%), or Japan (5%). To make matters worse, U.S. numbers reveal remarkable racial disparity with 14.6% of Black babies born prematurely compared to 9.4% of White babies.

As for mothers health in the post-Dobbs era, the report states that “maternal deaths are on the rise, with the rate doubling between 2018 to 2021 from 17.4 to 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.”

Susan Neiman sees the problem as deeply embedded in America’s culture and politics where guideposts and  philosophical values are being dismantled. Cast in this light, the failed U.S. health care system is systematically broken and highly discriminatory at best.

For Neiman,  the vacuum left by an erosion of justice is always filled with power – and specifically, power over someone. As the March of Dimes report so well illustrates,  the targets of this power play are clear. They are women, children, and people of color in America.  They deserve more than our thanks this Thanksgiving. They deserve unimpeded and complete access to health services, and to their doctors and nurses throughout the land.


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