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UK owes apology for ‘grave wrongs’ of forced adoptions: investigation

#owes #apology #grave #wrongs #forced #adoptions #investigation

Britain should formally apologize to unmarried mothers who have been forced to give up their babies for adoption, according to an official report on Friday, which included harrowing details of the women’s ordeal.

Some 185,000 children were taken away for adoption in England and Wales between 1949 and 1976, according to the report of Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.

The committee’s chair, Labor MP Harriet Harman, said the bond between mothers and babies had been “brutally torn” over time.

“The mothers’ only ‘crime’ was to have become pregnant unmarried. Her ‘punishment’ was a lifetime of secrecy and pain,” she said.

The committee recognized the “grave wrongs” done to the mothers and their children, Harman said, adding: “It’s about time the government did the same and issued the apology it wanted.”

“They have been vilified for decades. Now they need to be rehabilitated.”

The report noted that the Australian government issued a landmark apology for forced adoptions in 2013, and the Irish government did so last year.

Abortion was legalized in England, Scotland and Wales in 1967, but even after that women faced practical obstacles such as objections from their doctors.

Before and after, the social stigma of unmarried women getting pregnant can be overwhelming.

One woman told the committee she felt unable to tell her parents and went to a relative instead.

“When her mother finally found out, she was insulted: ‘Damaged goods, no one would marry me now, I brought shame on the family,'” the report reads.

Schools, churches, and social services referred pregnant young women to adoption agencies, often referring their parents without consulting the women themselves.

Hospitals were denied painkillers as “punishment” during childbirth, and afterwards babies were sometimes dragged from their sobbing mother’s arms to be taken away for adoption.

“Have you learned your lesson now?” One woman remembered a doctor telling her during labor.

Another told the committee: “A doctor told me that I should be sterilized as I must be a nymphomaniac.”

The report called for more specialized counseling for those affected and for the government to make it easier for those trying to locate their mother or child.

Without offering an apology, a government spokeswoman said: “We have the deepest sympathy for all those affected by the historic forced adoption.

“While we cannot undo the past, we have strengthened our legislation and practice to build on empathy,” she said, noting the improved care for vulnerable women today.

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