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Australia to Condemn Babies Prenatally
May 2, 2010 permalink
Western Australia is planning to monitor women starting at twenty weeks into pregnancy. There will be mandatory urine tests and the mothers must show a permanent home. Failure will result in legal seizure of the baby before birth.
Unborn babies seized from 'unfit' Perth mothers
BABIES are being "seized" by the Department for Child Protection before they are even born.
The Sunday Times can reveal the department has started scrutinising expectant mothers they fear may be unfit to care for a baby.
Under the radical new government policy, would-be mothers who are 20 weeks or more pregnant are being forced to give urine samples - to show they are drug free - and prove they have permanent accommodation.
If the expectant mother fails to satisfy child-protection officers, they immediately start child removal procedures.
It means the paperwork is completed ahead of the birth and, as soon as a baby is born, the child can be put into state care or given to a relative.
Abortion Grief Australia is concerned the scheme could lead to a rise in early terminations and expectant mothers committing suicide.
But Department for Child Protection director-general Terry Murphy said early intervention gave vulnerable mothers a better chance of keeping their babies because they had earlier access to help.
Mothers who want to keep their baby would have to undergo routine urine testing during pregnancy to prove they weren't drinking or taking drugs, he said.
Mothers would also have to prove they had permanent accommodation, would be able to feed their baby properly and were not in a dangerous domestic relationship.
The assessments conducted by the department are in collaboration with officials from the Drug and Alcohol Office and Department of Housing.
"This will work best for women who have had a number of children and they've lost them all," Mr Murphy said.
"These women would usually avoid us.
"But, with this approach, people are more willing to actually meet with us and try to find a solution whereby they can be supported to keep their child."
Mr Murphy conceded that for some expectant mothers the only choice for DCP officers would be to start preparations to take the baby away once it was born.
"There are a whole lot of graduated outcomes, all of which are an improvement on somebody being scared, giving birth, losing the child and then running away," he said.
"There are still times when we have to take a child away.
"But what we can at least be confident of is that the mum has understood fully why and that it's not just the DCP being nasty, but it generally means her family and all the other agencies that might be involved are also saying that's what should happen."
Source: Sunday Times (Australia)