This article popped up in my news feed this morning.
Basically, new laws in Australia (I originally thought the article was Canadian, sorry for that) will require that women who are drug addicts or victims of domestic violence sign a Parental Responsibility Contract stating that they will seek counselling or will have their newborns removed by the Minister at birth. The article mostly focuses on drug addicted mothers, and I believe this is the case because there is more general public support for this aspect of it because crack heads, amirite?
But drug addiction issues aside, the portion of the law that focuses on abused mothers is particularly troubling.
"The new legislation will also extend to pregnant woman who suffer domestic violence. In those cases, the women will be asked to sign a PRC ordering them to either leave their partner, move in with a relative or seek help through domestic violence counselling."
Now, I fully support hospitals and government services intervening for the protection of the baby, so long as the mother is not ignored in the equation. But the resources for abused mothers are lacking, especially in rural communities where a mother has limited access to shelters, counselling, employment, and anonymity. Furthermore, what is the government going to do to ensure that abuse will not escalate as a result of the removal of the child? A basic survey of the literature on the issue will tell you that a woman is at the highest risk for escalated violence during and immediately following a pregnancy. I firmly believe that this will only get worse and place mothers at further risk if the child is removed and the mother left behind.
The law is essentially telling abused mothers that they "need to get their shit together for the sake of their child" without providing adequate resources to do so. It is easy for someone who is not a victim of domestic violence to look at a situation like that and ask "Why can't she just do what's best for her baby?" while ignoring the complex dynamic of socio-economics and psychology lurking behind the situation.
Do I think that nothing should be done? No, of course not. But god damn it, why can't we remove the abusive partners from the situation rather than wagging a finger at the mother while her newborn is ripped from her at birth leaving her helpless and hopeless?
When is the next flight off this planet?