Christy Turlington Saves Women's Lives
A firsthand look at how childbirth is being made safer for women around the world.
What makes Christy run?
Spokeswoman-filmmaker-activist Christy Turlington Burns, CARE’s ambassador for maternal health, is always busy, but she really packed a lot into one day this past March: She taped NBC’s Today show, rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange for International Women’s Day, cochaired her daughter’s preschool auction and facilitated a live world-broadcast discussion about poverty and women’s empowerment. The mother of two also sat down for an interview with us.
Fit Pregnancy: Why do you care so much about women around the globe?
Christy Turlington Burns: Because more than 500,000 women die in childbirth annually, and most of those deaths are preventable. But I’m as concerned about American health care issues as international ones. The system isn’t focused on the underlying causes of maternal death. In developing countries, women have problems accessing health care. In America, some women can’t get care, but deaths are also caused by unnecessary C-sections and other interventions. Women are told those are their only options, but those things are potentially dangerous.
FP: How do you manage to do all that you do?
CTB: Now, that’s a global subject. It helps when my husband and I get some rest. With Grace, who’s now 5, we [Turlington Burns is married to writer-director-actor Ed Burns] did co-sleeping, attachment parenting and nursed forever. But Finn, 3, is on a schedule. Now that I have two children, I can’t lie down for hours with them at bedtime. I really enjoy the quiet time at night.
FP: How has your work with CARE changed your own perspective?
CTB: Things are improving, but globally, there’s still gender bias. Women in our grandmothers’ generation couldn’t get an education or equal pay. People had to work on our behalf to guarantee certain rights. We Americans have the right to approach our representatives. Most women in developing countries don’t. Exercising that right has global impact. It’s easy to get caught up in our own world. The broader I look, the more my own life is in perspective. — J.F.