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MIA: "To the mothers of unwanted babies: You have choices."

Two newborn babies in a week. One swathed in bubble wrap and left to die in a drain. The other naked and buried crudely in the sand to be found by two little kids who will always be scarred by their horror day at the beach.

One mother who has been charged with attempted murder.

Another being sought by police for questioning after an autopsy today revealed she was a newborn little girl.

unwanted pregnancy optionsTwo scenes – a week apart.

Right now, today, as you read this post, there are thousands of women around Australia who are pregnant and who desperately don’t want to be.  They may be distressed or depressed, ashamed or horrified, shocked or frantic about the prospect of having a baby they don’t want or can’t take care of.

Some of these women are teenagers but the majority are not. The myth of unwanted pregnancies only happening to naive, irresponsible young girls is an outdated one. There are myriad complex reasons why a woman doesn’t want to have a baby. Religious reasons. Financial reasons. Medical reasons. Mental health reasons.

You may also be interested in reading: Why we urgently need safe drop-off centres for abandoned babies.

She might be in a violent or abusive relationship.

She might be single and unable or unwilling to raise a baby alone.

She might have other children whose welfare will be compromised by the strain of another baby.

She might be unmarried and from a family or culture who do not accept babies born outside marriage.

She might feel that her family is complete, that she’s done having babies.

Her partner may have suddenly disappeared from her life.

Her husband might not want to be a Dad again.

She might just have different plans for her life that don’t involve being a mother at this point.

unwanted pregnancy optionsPregnant women have choices. Difficult, heart-wrenching choices, but choices all the same.

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 Perhaps some of these factors led one Sydney mother to drop her baby down a drain to die last week. And perhaps too, they contributed to the death of the newborn girl discovered yesterday, buried 30cm deep in the sand.

One day we may know more about the circumstances leading up to those babies being found by strangers. What we will never know is how many other babies die, never to be found. Desperate people do desperate things. They always have. And many of them remain secrets forever.

It’s also worth observing that automatically ascribing every heinous act to “mental illness” is neither accurate nor helpful. While there is a place for empathy, using mental illness as an armchair explanation or justification doesn’t serve the cause of mental illness nor does it serve to protect vulnerable children.

What’s crucial to remember is that every woman in Australia in 2014 who does not want to have a baby has choices. Whether she’s 6 weeks or 9 months pregnant, she has choices. Choices that mean she does not have to kill or attempt to kill her newborn.

And we must not forget that, no matter how much empathy we have for the circumstances that may lead someone to commit such a heinous act.

unwanted pregnancy optionsThe crime scene at Maroubra yesterday.

In the hope that we can, as a community, prevent more babies from being killed or left to die, here at Mamamia we have compiled the following list of links to services that can help pregnant women who don’t want to have or keep their babies.

Because knowledge is power, something that’s crucial at a time when so many women feel so very helpless. And because the more women who are aware of their choices, the better.

– Barnados Australia provides adoption services and short and long-term Foster care for children in need. To find out more about their services visit their website here.

-The Australian Government provides a national and state-run scheme for Child protection, including options for adoption. To find out more about the services each state offers visit their website. 

– Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a free, 24 hour national service funded by the Federal Government. It provides confidential advice and non-judgmental support for women and their partners from qualified counsellors. Call 1800 882 436 or go to www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au  for trusted, online information.

-Dr Marie Stopes runs abortion clinics around Australia. To find out more about the services they offer visit their website here.

-Sexual Health and Family planning Australia have clinics in all states and territories that can provide services and information surrounding abortion. Find out more here.

-Beyond Blue offers support to women and mothers in need who are suffering from perinatal mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Visit their website here, or call 1300 22 4636 to talk to someone.

-PANDA also offers support for women who are suffering from post natal depression. To find out more about their services visit their website here or call their helpline if you need to talk to someone: 1300 726 306.

Lifeline runs a 24-hour hotline to help assist those in a crisis situation. If you need support call them on 13 11 14.

Parent Line offers a 24-hour support hotline for parents and carers who need to talk to someone. Call them on 1300 1300 52.

– At present, Australia does not have legal spaces to leave an unwanted baby. Child abandonment is an offence in Australia, but some parents who feel they have run out of options have left their babies at their local hospital, police station or a local church.

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