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The whole messy situation could have been avoided – wouldn’t even have met with newsprint – if the kids had just chosen abortion.

This is the not-so-subtle suggestion that can be read between the lines of much commentary around the recent birth of baby girl ‘AM’ to western Sydney teen parents aged 14 and 15 (the baby was given the pseudonym ‘AM’ by the court yesterday after a magistrate ordered that all identities be suppressed).

After the 15-year-old mum gave birth, the couple fled the hospital and camped in a suburban backyard overnight with their newborn girl, before authorities caught up with them and readmitted the baby to hospital.

The couple said they feared Child Protection Services would take her from them. Which they did.

They said they were told they wouldn’t be able to take their baby home. And they haven’t.

They said hospital staff told them they were too young to decide what would happen to their baby. And so far, they’ve not had any say.

The little family briefly reunited on Tuesday, but baby AM remains in the care of Child Protection Services.

“All we wanted to do was spend Easter with her,” the teenage dad told Seven News.

“Nothing that [the authorities] are doing is right. They are supposed to keep families together, not tear them apart.”

And now it has emerged that little AM’s grandparents are up to their ears in various criminal activities and that this was the context the teen parents planned to bring their bundle of joy home to.

A veritable melting pot of complexities that has seen teen pregnancy figures scrutinised and political and health professionals weighing into the topic.

Enter: NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard. Read between the lines of his statement to the Daily Telegraph.

“The evidence is pretty clear that it’s much more challenging for very young people to become effective parents.

“The sad truth is that many young parents end up ill-equipped to bring up children.

“I would counsel the parents to do everything possible to dissuade their young teenagers from having children too early.”

Is he suggesting abstinence? It’s either that or abortion, because we all know abstinence is the only completely fail-proof form of birth control. And it’s certainly admirable that he has committed to increased education

Let’s take a look at some of Mr Hazzard’s broad sweeping comments. Firstly, he talks about “effective parents”. What. Is. That? I know a lot of parents and none of them would call themselves a clinical word like “effective”. Words like effective and successful and efficient are more than a little subjective anyway. One person might say a person who grows up without a history of abuse would have experienced “effective” parenting, while another would say a person who grows up knowing the full love of their parents experienced “effective” parenting.

Young parents are “ill-equipped” he went on to say. Oh, for a manual on parenting, some kind of one-size-fits-all method for raising well-balanced children. All parents feel ill-equipped at points in the journey. Younger parents might have less money, less maturity, less understanding. But they might also have more energy, more creativity, more time.

And then Mr Hazzard counselled parents to “do everything possible” to prevent teens from having children too early.

This is interesting. Could he be suggesting that teen women have their choice taken away? The language is alarmist. As if parenthood is the worst ever eventuality, even though it’s what most of us yearn for at some point in our life, and what all of us owe our lives to.

Please, someone give this man different portfolio. That, or walk him through the way those tenets of society – the family unit and the wider community – work. It’s summed up in a word, Mr Hazzard, a word spelt: s – u – p – p – o – r – t.

Sure, it’s not ideal for teens to become parents at 14 and 15, but it happens, and when it does, this mum and dad shouldn’t be tut-tutted at while their baby is snatched like some Love Child story from the ’70s. They should be given support where there are obvious gaps. Mentoring. Partnership. Love.

They should not be chastised with a statement that bubbles down to “you should have had an abortion” – they should be championed in the decision they made to take the first step of any responsible parent: to choose life.

This baby girl entered the world in less than ideal circumstances. But, that was not her choice, not her fault. The least we can do as her community, as her extended family, is to offer meaningful support rather than a finger pointed in criticism.


Originally published at Emily’s Voice.

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