22 Feb 2018

The risks of forced motherhood

An Estonian mother who wanted to give up her newborn -- but was talked out of it -- has been sentenced to jail along with her husband. The child, born healthy, suffers from blindness, hearing loss and brain damage.

Marta Tuul
Marta Tuul Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
The risks of forced motherhood - NewsMavens
Pregnant woman. Wikimedia commons

Why this story matters:

The baby, who was born healthy, is now in vegetative state. She lives in an orphanage, where caretakers communicate with her by touch. Had she been born in neighboring Latvia, she may have been saved.

Unlike Estonia, Latvia offers "baby boxes" to ensure that mothers who do not want their children can give them to a hospital. They were created because Latvian babies were being found dead in the forest and trash bins. 

The case of the Estonian mother is an appalling example of what happens when you ignore women voicing their needs and fail to offer them options. If late-term abortions are not available, then pregnant women or new mothers who do not want, or cannot care for their children, should be given clear instructions on how to pass their baby to qualified care givers like a hospital or an adoption agency.

Most importantly, women who share their experiences and clearly voice a call for help, should be listened and responded to.

reproductive rights, health, family, women's issues, human rights

Details from the story:

  • In May 2015, a woman named Anu gave birth to an unwanted child after she was unable to get an abortion during her seventh month of pregnancy.
  • Ten days after giving birth, Anu left her sick daughter at a hospital and rarely visited. Months later, Anu was leaving her home alone for hours.
  • Anu wanted to give the girl to an orphanage, but medical staff reassured her that she could take care of her baby herself.  
  • Some time in August, Anu dropped the girl in the shower, and in September, the baby's father hit her twice in the face with his fist and three times in the chest.
  • In October, Anu entered the Child Protection Association in Tallinn and said she wanted to give up her four-month-old daughter immediately. She was placed on a waiting list for psychological care.
  • At the end of the month, Anu took the girl to a doctor, who diagnosed her with brain damage.
  • Anu was sentenced to four months imprisonment. The baby's father also was sentenced to jail.

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