Adoption inquiry hears of abortion griefWednesday, October 26, 2011
“The heart-rending stories of women who were forced to relinquish their babies to adoption are very similar to the stories of women hurt by forced abortion,” FamilyVoice research officer Ros Phillips told a Senate Inquiry on Former Forced Adoption Policies in Adelaide today.
She said many women who abort their babies do so because they feel they have no other choice – because of circumstances, or pressure from parents, husbands or partners. “They suffer ongoing depression, suicidal thoughts and drug abuse, just like women who have been forced to relinquish their babies to adoption,” she said.
“A friend of mine stood outside Adelaide’s abortion clinic – the Pregnancy Advisory Centre at Woodville Park – early one morning last year. She counted the women entering the clinic to have an abortion. One third were in tears. They did not want to be there. These women will suffer greatly later on,” Mrs Phillips said.
Senator Judith Adams (Lib, WA), a member of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee which is conducting the inquiry, said attitudes have changed since the 60s when she was a trainee midwife, sometimes dealing with women whose babies were adopted. No one understood the need for appropriate counselling. She herself had lost a baby to stillbirth and did not receive counselling either. “We were just expected to get on with life,” she said.
Ros Phillips told Committee chair Senator Siewert (Greens, WA) that state premiers should be encouraged to follow the example of WA Premier Colin Barnett and issue a public apology to women in years gone by who were forced against their will to hand over their babies for adoption.
But Mrs Phillips also said that the pendulum has now swung too far – with women who want to release their babies for adoption being pressured not to do so. “Keli Lane was found guilty last year of murdering her two day old baby Tegan,” Ros Phillips said. “Keli had wanted to adopt out an earlier baby, but experienced enormous ongoing pressure from social workers opposed to adoption. This may have led to her tragic action after the next birth.”
Ros Phillips urged senators to consider another inquiry into women who have suffered ongoing mental ill-health after stillbirth, miscarriage or abortion
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