Media Release:  ‘Accidental termination of ‘healthy’ baby’

This week we watched in horror as the story of the tragic death of two baby boys at the royal women's hospital  unfolded.  We are rightly horrified.  A healthy, viable, loved baby has been deliberately killed and the parents and other family members will have to live with the loss and grief for the rest of their lives.  It is a tragedy.

One aspect of this story that will not make the news is that had the 'correct' baby been terminated he would have been simply a number in the 2011 Perinatal Morbidity Statistics.  We wouldn't have heard about him or his family.

Is it because the baby was healthy that we are outraged and it made the news headlines?   No, it can't be that because every year healthy babies are aborted after 23 weeks of pregnancy.  The Perinatal Morbidity Statistics reveal that of 328 late term abortions in 2008, 178 of them were performed on healthy babies whose mothers were experiencing psychosocial problems.  So it isn't that the baby was healthy that we are outraged, otherwise we would be outraged for all of these babies and their mothers.

Is it that the baby was apparently 'wanted' then?  Perhaps not, as research tells us that more than 70% of women having abortions do so feeling as though they have no other choice.  This suggests that if the women were provided social and emotionally supportive alternatives they would have continued their pregnancies.   It wasn’t their babies that were unwanted, but the circumstances they found themselves in.

Perhaps it is that the tragedy of abortion on the lives of babies, women and families has become so great that we don't really want to believe it when we hear it.  When something like this situation occurs it’s a collective and cumulative outrage for all mothers and babies that we express.   We should be outraged with a society that continues to allow women to be told that their medically determined ‘less than perfect’ children are better off not being born or that their social problems are best 'fixed' by the termination of their child.

The messages we send women and girls about their ‘right’ to pregnancy and motherhood are outrageous.  Teen mums in Wagga Wagga have been told this month that they must choose between their children and an education,  that abortion would have been a 'better' choice for them.  Instead of looking for ways to support young mums to build a positive future full of opportunities, local services fuss about the lack of surgical termination options available locally.

Instead of getting the support and encouragement to embrace and love their ‘less than perfect’ child, even if he only lived a short while, a couple have now lost both their children.

We should be outraged, but let's be outraged on behalf of every mother not offered what she needs to be able to hold her baby in her arms rather than an ache in her heart for the rest of her life.

Debbie Garratt

Executive Director

Real Choices Australia

25th November 2011.