Thursday, January 04, 2007

Childbirth in Iraq

The litany of horrors coming out of Iraq can be mind-numbing. But when you think you've finally become inured to the endless parade of tragedies that you read about in the news everyday, you read something like this:

Noor Ibrahim lay shivering underneath two blankets on a bed at al-Jarrah Hospital. Steps away was a red plastic bassinet. It was empty.

A few doors down, her recently born son lay wrapped in a pink blanket. He was a chubby boy of nearly nine pounds with a big patch of black hair. His eyes were closed, his head cocked to the left, his mouth slightly open, his skin soft and pale.

The boy was not in a bassinet. He was in a cardboard box. He was not heading to his mother's room. He was heading to the morgue.

"Fresh death," Ibrahim's obstetrician said as she reached into the box and lifted the boy's limp right arm, still covered in blood and amniotic fluid.

The baby died because his parents were too afraid to leave for the hospital when the mother went into labor, and there were no doctors there to help them because they were also too afraid to go to work for fear of being kidnapped or killed by insurgents, suicide bombers, or militia members. And so the war in Iraq has killed not only those in the midst of living full lives, but also those who have yet to begin their lives.

I don't write about this as part of a plea for withdrawal. Without a doubt, things will only get worse when our soldiers leave and take whatever security they provide the Iraqi people with them. Rather, I write about it because this is something that Americans should know about. The death of this little one, and literally countless others, is the direct result of an invasion premised on a mis-placed fear, stoked by politicians with their own agendas.

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