State sanctioned rape of children

As parents, we generally want to do everything we can to protect our children against life’s harshest circumstances.  Many of us go to great lengths to do so.  Some may work very long hours in undesirable jobs to make sure their children are well fed, clothed and educated.   Parents often make personal sacrifices so that their children’s lives are somewhat better than perhaps their own had been and to make sure they have every opportunity to succeed.  Parents would surely do everything humanly possible to protect their children from physical and emotional harm, and it would be hard to hold back the outrage against any person who threatened or hurt them.

Imagine then, a scenario where your 12yr old daughter comes to you because she has been sexually assaulted.   You call the authorities, or take her to a local doctor, first of all to ensure that she is physically okay, and secondly to find out what you need to do to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice and your child will be safe.  She might be examined and probably questioned about what happened to her.   She is then told that there is something even worse than this that could happen.. in fact, it is so bad, that the first thing that needs to happen is that her body needs to be chemically altered to ensure it is impossible.   A small metal rod needs to be inserted under her skin so that she won’t fall pregnant.   Having a baby would be terrible.   She might wonder how on earth she would be having a baby;  you are probably wondering the same thing; perhaps concerned that you’re misunderstanding; perhaps they think she might already be pregnant and that’s what they are talking about.

The doctor then explains to you that ‘no, she isn’t pregnant, but we don’t want her to get pregnant do we… you know.. when this happens again.’

What you have just been offered is the solution currently on offer to a number of Indigenous communities in our country, where pregnancy is considered intolerable, but rape of children is tolerated.  Children from Indigenous communities in Queensland are being given contraceptive implant to prevent pregnancy when it is known they have been sexually abused, sometimes for years.   They are then sent back to the perpetrators, who are not charged, and are perhaps expected to be happy that they have been saved from a fate worse than repeated rape:  an ‘unwanted’ baby.   Tolerated isn’t in fact a strong enough word for this.  When we sterilise girl children so that they won’t get pregnant, knowing that the most likely way this will happen is if they are raped, you are not only condoning the actions of rapists, but encouraging them. 

In what ways must a mother have given up hope for her own life, and the life of her child, for her to give her consent to such an action?  What are we saying about the value of the lives of these little girls when we tell them that having a child would be worse than being raped, therefore we are going to ensure the former doesn’t happen and send you back to the danger? 

Why isn’t this making every national headline, repeatedly?  It is nothing short of state sanctioned rape of vulnerable children, and it has to stop. 


The greater pain..

This week I posted a comment on a ‘first mothers’ forum’.  First mothers are those who lost a child to adoption.  The forum post I commented on was one where the mothers advocate strongly for abortion rights, touting research that I know is methodological flawed to rationalise why women need abortion and that it causes no harm.

My intention when I respond to such posts is never diminish or dismiss the extraordinary depth of pain the mothers experience at their loss, but to try to increase awareness that today many women experience the same lack of choice in abortion as they may have experienced in adoption.  

Similarly I will occasionally venture to point out to prolife groups that promoting an ‘adoption not abortion’ approach dismisses the depth of loss inherent in adoption and undermines what we know about the reasons women seek abortion; that being not because they don’t want their children, but that their circumstances seem untenable to that option.

My aim in responding to either group is to separate the two issues of abortion and adoption, rather than see them as the viable alternatives to each other, and to ensure that women suffering after either one can have a voice without being dismissed.

The hostility that usually follows from both sides has come to be expected and I think demonstrates the ways in which women on both sides continue to fail to be heard. 

On a personal level I know many women who have had abortions.  Quite a number of them have never discussed the experience and appear not to have suffered any ill effects over the years.  I also know a smaller number of women who adopted, and some who were adopted.   Again, their experiences are varied, with some quite content and others struggling.

On a professional level however, I work with a population of women, and some men who have suffered following an abortion experience, some for much of their lives.  I also facilitate support groups for mothers and adoptees who have suffered as a result of adoption.  

Between my personal and professional contacts over the years I have seen every kind of experience; adoptees who say they would rather have been aborted than to have suffered the sense of loss, even when they also say they have lived happy lives;  mothers who wish they’d aborted instead of adopted, mothers who wish they’d adopted instead of aborted, fathers who had no say in any decision making, adoptees who are thankful they had a chance at life and mothers who feel their lives and the lives of their adopted child benefited from adoption.

It is difficult for me to see such pain, knowing that for so many this pain is dismissed and denied by people who hold strongly to a single view based on their own pain or experience.   Women who aborted may see their pain as much more significant than if they’d adopted because they will never get a chance to see or know their child.  Women who adopted believe if they’d aborted they would have just got over it a lot quicker because they are not always wondering where their child is or if they are okay.

Both groups do to the other the very thing that increases their own suffering, silences them, and fails to fully address the real reasons women are denied their motherhood.  Until we can take the time to fully hear and understand the pain; to believe the suffering is what the woman says it is, and redress the social and cultural inequalities that would deny a woman the support she has a right to when bearing children, nothing will change.

We are living under such an oppressive cloud of maternal grief, a powerful force that could be used to create genuine change; to honour women and the power and strength of their biology, rather than to oppress and deny it. 

It greatly saddens me to see either group claiming the greater pain and in doing so, denying the reality of the other.  Suffering should never be compared in this way, particularly the suffering of women who have lost their children, however that loss has manifested.


Dilemma of pre born humanity

Here we meet a baby whose location changed temporarily for the purpose of surgery to remove a tumour.  Baby LynLee was removed from her mother’s womb at 23 weeks of pregnancy, operated on, and returned to her mother’s body from where she was born at 36 weeks.

This must create a dilemma for those who advocate abortion throughout the entirety of pregnancy claiming a lack of personhood of the foetus. 

Was LynLee a person for the time she was outside the womb?  If not, why operate on her at all?

Did she cease to be a person when she was put back inside her mother’s body?

Did her mother have the right to decide to end her life after that, but before was born?

Of course, abortion advocates would have to answer ‘yes’ to the latter 2 questions, otherwise their entire argument for the rights of women in opposition to the rights of their children collapse.

Of course most of the population are expressing awe and delight at our ability to perform such a task, to save a baby even before they are born.    Television and print media are lapping up the story, showing discreet pictures of the baby undergoing surgery, then later as a snuggled newborn, all the while choosing to ignore the other reality; that while some doctors hone their skills to save the lives of yet to be born babies, others hone their skills on more effective ways to kill them.

This clinical trial in the US, examined the effectiveness of injecting Digoxin, a drug designed to stop the heartbeat directly into the foetus during pregnancy versus into the amniotic fluid.   Ensuring foetal death before removing the body from the womb of the mother to terminate her pregnancy is particularly important in the US where they have legislation that is supposed to mean implementing life saving care of a baby born alive.

‘Fetal asystole’ refers to the heartbeat, with asystole meaning no heartbeat.  ‘Failure’ in this clinical trial means the heart kept beating.  The women in this clinical trial were between 20 and 24 weeks pregnant.

Of course in Australia this is less of an issue, where we have no such protections of babies born alive.  Dozens of babies are delivered alive every year in Victoria alone.  Column 4 in this table shows just how many.    All of these babies had been diagnosed with a congenital abnormality; not all would have been life limiting or untreatable.   All of the pregnancies terminated for psychosocial reasons delivered babies still-born, so it would seem our Victorian doctors have very effective means of ensuring foetal death for the healthiest babies.

At what point do we get a genuine wake up call about what is going on?  How much discomfort needs to exist in the minds of people before we get a collective ‘aha’ moment, stop fearing the ideological backlash, and start acting in accordance with what we actually know.

Women should never be forced to choose between full participation in their own lives and their unborn children.

If we care enough about unborn people to carry out life saving techniques on them even before they are born, how can we turn such a blind eye to the fact that we are also killing them?  Can we truly believe that we are empowering women by abandoning them to make such life and death decisions over their children alone, unsupported, and without genuine alternatives?

Surely we can do better.


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