A man, enraged, kicks his pregnant partner in the stomach until she miscarries. A baby he didn’t want. Later, she dies.
It’s a horrific image, a terrible crime. But should it be a double homicide?
The debate about the rights of the unborn is set to rev up – again – as South Australian Family First MP Robert Brokenshire prepares a Bill that declares it a crime to “destroy the life of” or do “grievous bodily harm to” a foetus.
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Hundreds of Australians die every year because of overcrowded hospitals. Children with disabilities struggle to get the help and equipment they need. Public schools are under-resourced. We don’t have a magic uber-highway to zip us around the country at the speed of sound.
And yet we’re spending taxpayer’s cash on IVF for women in their 50s. Riddle me that.
The news that a 60-year-old gave birth is the sort of thing that sees some people shudder while others are all high-fives and ‘you go girlfriend’ excited.
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At a time when annual births (around 300,000) are double deaths (around 150,000) in Australia, Labor’s reduction in the baby bonus from $5,000 to $3,000 for second and subsequent children is welcome news. This fiscally responsible measure alone will save the nation up to $500 million every three years. But the government should go further.
We live in a finite world and can’t grow forever. The sooner we adjust to a stable population, the easier it will be to manage growing scarcity of finite, non-renewable resources. Quality of life and intergenerational equity through the sustainable use of energy, food and water resources is our priority.
The Stable Population Party supports young families and freedom of choice on family size, but not governments providing financial incentives to have large families. We advocate a broader strategy to encourage ‘replacement-size’ families: Limit both the baby bonus and paid parental leave to each woman’s first two children.
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Overnight news broke Swedish doctors have made a startling breakthrough in fertility treatment, by transplanting the functioning wombs of two women into their own adult daughters.
They’ll now give the new uteruses a year to settle in before trying for pregnancies with IVF. It’s an incredible medical development, that will give some infertile women hope they will one day become biological mothers.
The clinical director of women’s health at Westmead Hospital in Sydney Dr Andrew Pesce told ABC radio this morning: “It’s obviously emotionally a much more powerful and strong bond and experience if the woman carries the baby herself. I think it’s not possible to anticipate yet that such women could give birth naturally.”
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Planes can be a serene, encapsulated escape of their own. No phone, no email, and a beautifully coiffed person to bring you drinks. You’re suspended in time and space.
Of course, they’re also filthy bacteria recyclers, where you’re at risk of being cropdusted by a gaseous fellow passenger, of being sweated or drooled on by strangers. There’s a creepy sort of intimacy.
But in general, I love to fly. I even have special plane underwear (seam and underwire-free). I enjoy shopping for mini travel-sized products, I’ve perfected the art of packing hand luggage so I’m prepared for any situation, and I use flying as an excuse for unhealthy behaviour such as reading trashy magazines and drinking spirits before midday.
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Nestle has come under pressure after receiving complaints from parents that their baby formula is making kids extremely sick and agitated.
Had any experiences with the baby formula? Let us know.
What’s on your mind today?
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Babies freak me out a bit. The really little ones, anyway. It’s the way their heads bobble around like a puppy doll on a dashboard, unsupported by protective muscles. They’re so breakable.
It’s one of the great paradoxes of the human body. On the one hand, it seems miraculous that these old bags of skin and bone and mucous somehow work together to keep a human going.
On the other hand, we’re unbearably fragile. Sometimes hearts stop beating, lungs stop breathing, we just stop working. It’s amazing that so many defenceless babies grow up with all their bits intact.
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Confession: I have celebrity sympathy fatigue. My initial reaction to news of Grant Hackett’s rampage, to Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s breast cancer diagnosis, to the story of former footballer Tony Modra’s “miracle” premature baby was:
Who cares? There are bigger things to worry about.
In fact, my reaction was stronger than ‘who cares’. It was anger that we elevate their problems over those of mere mortals, and by doing so diminish the everyday experiences of people doing it even tougher.
Hundreds of thousands of men and women have experienced domestic violence in the form of physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Many of them suffer systematic abuse over years. Some die. Half of us will get cancer by the age of 85. Horrid, blossoming cancers with devastating treatments that leave people hollowed out. Treatments that delay death rather than cure.
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A couple of years back I met a woman who had had quadruplets through an IVF program 24 years ago. I was delighted to find that all four babies were now healthy young people but amazed to find out that I had actually conducted the embryo transfer and had implanted all four embryos inside her womb.
IVF has certainly changed over the past 30 years in that things that were acceptable then are no longer practiced today – like implanting multiple embryos.
The most significant change over the past 30 years has been the improvement in IVF success rates; the clinic at which I work rarely implants more than one embryo and has a multiple pregnancy rate below 4 per cent, as compared to 40 per cent 25 years ago
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So we’re at war. Mums everywhere, online, on the radio, in the sand pit. Judging each other for the choices we make as parents. Putting each other down to sooth our own insecurities. Driving ourselves to competitive distraction.
If you believe TIME, and the reaction to it, we’re in the trenches and the enemy is other mothers who do things differently.
Only, we’re not… Because behind the controversy whipped up by so-called parenting experts, the media commentators and the shock jocks, ordinary parents are just getting on with the job of parenting.
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If a clean house is a sign of a wasted life then Octomom’s filthy home shows… what, exactly?
Turns out Nadya Suleman, who famously gave birth to octuplets and depends on handouts to feed the 14 children she now has, has some difficulty keeping her home sparkling fresh.
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While pregnant, I remember gazing at the slim, lissome models in the posh maternity wear catalogues and wondering if they were going to give birth to a basketball instead of a baby.
Those graceful elongated elks seemed to inhabit an enchanted forest a world away from mine. They wore clothes I couldn’t afford to buy. They were tall, slim and had beautiful round compact baby bellies. I was short, squat, perspiring, and afflicted with varicose veins in unmentionable places.
But it never occurred to me that these catalogue women posing in the chocolate Toorak wrap dress ($269.99), the Point Piper aqua tee ($69.99) or the Double Bay print pant ($99.99) were not actually pregnant.
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Fertility is a precious commodity for the modern woman. Greater opportunities, education and choice, along with the difficulties of finding the right partner can make it easy to delay falling pregnant. Being able to stow eggs away for the “right time” is an alluring prospect.
In this context, a recent discovery by Dr Jonathan Tilly of Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital offers massive temptation. The American scientist has found that ovaries of young women harbour very rare stem cells capable of producing new eggs.
He made the discovery after an initial study found that stem cells in the ovaries of adult mice could give rise to viable eggs. This means that although women are born with a finite number of eggs, they now have more chances to fall pregnant later in life. But it’s also a risk of epic proportions.
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When I was pregnant with my second child, the 19 week ultrasound brought potentially devastating news. Our child had a growth on the lung which could kill them. At that stage, doctors were unsure what would happen.
The growth could get bigger, squashing internal organs and killing the baby. If that happened, they could induce the baby at about 26 weeks so doctors could try to operate. Or it may not grow any bigger and the baby could have it removed after birth.
News that a couple had the wrong twin aborted at 32 weeks when one was diagnosed with a serious heart defect brought these memories flooding back. This poor couple ended up losing both children, which is horrific for all involved.
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There is no ‘right’ to have a child. This seems a callous thing to say, but wrapping any conversation about children up in cuddly pink fleece-lined jumpsuits doesn’t help what has to be a serious policy debate.
While it must be devastating for couples who, for whatever reason, are unable to conceive, there are limits to society’s obligations to help them. Like most controversial health decisions, this is a tale of clashing rights and finite resources.
Last year the Federal Government made changes to the Medicare Safety Net, effectively capping the amount they would pay out for assisted reproductive treatments.
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You have to admire those fine doctors working at the cutting edge to help people with fertility issues achieve their baby dreams. As well as putting themselves out there by pushing the boundaries of science, many brave even more shark-infested waters: Australian gender politics.
The latest professor to put his head up and get it half bitten off is the veteran Melbourne IVF specialist, Professor Gab Kovacs, a man who must have lost count decades back of how many thousand little Australians he has helped into the world.
Mr Kovacs dared to suggest that rather than banking on new technologies such as egg freezing, women should consider settling for Mr Not-Quite-Right and just get on with it. Without a trace of tone, the worldly Prof Kovacs suggested women should not consider frozen eggs a guarantee of a “family in the fridge’‘.
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Four friends were dining over lunch in a swish Adelaide restaurant last weekend when a woman at the next table pulled out her chair and proceeded to change her baby’s nappy on the floor.
Can you believe that? The four friends couldn’t. They were so stunned they decided to phone The Sunday Mail.
“It was just so unhygienic and inappropriate,” said one. “Luckily it was only a wet nappy – imagine if it had been really messy.”
No thanks, ladies. Might put me off my own lunch. But talk about taking the new mums’ cause back 20 years.
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Should circumcision be banned? Is it mutilation or a culturally and medically significant practice?
That’s the question facing legislators in San Francisco after a controversial, but successful, campaign lead by “Foreskin Man” Michael Hess to have the question put to a ballot.
In California in the last year, the anti-circumcision movement has gained enough public momentum to have the question put to a ballot. Under Hess’ proposal, the circumcision of a minor would be a criminal act and be treated as an assault.
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Yesterday, we had a lively discussion in The Punch office. The following is what the fly on the wall heard…
Ant: What’s this story you’re thinking about re babies on planes, T?
Tory: Malaysia Airlines are banning kids in first class and I reckon it’s a brilliant idea. I wish I had the money to fly first class, and now there’s one more reason. I’m always the passenger who ends up next to the screaming baby which means I arrive somewhere tired and pissed off when I’m meant to be enjoying my holiday
Ant: You’re aware that babies are human beings with every right to be on a plane, right?
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As a general rule, men and women know squat about babies. At least until they have to raise one.
Then it’s time to knuckle down and survive the crying and vegemite poo, striving for the same primal instinct that enabled our ancestors to find shelter without iPhones and run barefoot across rocky terrain, chasing the evening meal with only a large toothpick and loincloth for protection.
Giving birth, so we have been led to believe, was much the same thing. A labour, in all senses of the word, to be endured rather than enjoyed; a period of a couple of hours (if you were lucky) or a couple of days (if you were not) where all you could do was grit your teeth and hope for the best, as nature intended.
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Before we had children, my husband and I had dual careers. We both jumped on planes at a moment’s notice, saw each other when we could and, in rare, quiet times, pinched ourselves because we had jobs we loved.
Then I became pregnant. My husband bought baby clothes. Lots of them. Being the literary tragic I am, I daydreamed about a daughter with a Shakespearean name: Cordelia, Ophelia, Perdita. As if.
What we didn’t think about, because neither of us are planners, was how we’d share looking after said baby. I was determined to be a mother, first and foremost, but I was also young, freelancing and the first of my friends to have a baby. Wouldn’t it just fit in?
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Ninety-four year old actress Zsa Zsa Gabor’s ninth husband, Prince Frederik von Anhalt, reportedly wants her to have a baby using his sperm, a donor egg and a surrogate mother. Yes, he does. He visited a Beverley Hills fertility clinic for sperm analysis and blood work.
There have been no reports of him also having his head read; however, Gabor’s daughter, 64-year-old Francesca Hilton (a product of Gabor’s second marriage to hotel magnate, Conrad Hilton) has denounced the story as the latest in a string of wild publicity stunts by her seventh step-father.
And while the Gabor-Anhalts gallivant around celebrity baby clinics (if gallivanting is possible when you are just shy of a century, with a partially-amputated leg), my friend – a single mum of two young children – has announced that she has successfully battled cancer at the age of 38. Facing her own mortality, she had to put in place a plan for the care of her children, which involved her parents and her sisters.
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So, radio personality Jackie O crossed a quiet, leafy, Double Bay pedestrian crossing while bottle-feeding her six-week-old daughter and made the mistake of being photographed.
Mothercraft and Nannies director, Jenni Waldron, tut-tutted in the Daily Telegraph that “it would be best to sit comfortably in a chair and hold your baby correctly while feeding”. She was probably caught off guard too.
Jackie felt compelled to explain herself on air: ‘I was running late and Kitty was screaming…’. Yes. I feel like doing that myself when I read stories like this.
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Even cute babies have ugly mothers. That’s how it was in the Bonds Baby online beauty contest last week, when things got so nasty the police were called in.
Outraged by a computer glitch which interrupted voting for their precious widdle sweedies, spurned mums turned on other chubby-cheeked cherubs in the running.
“Bonds Australia not Asia” was the charming comment posted beside a photo of two-year-old contestant Lilli, who shares Asian and European heritage. One baby copped “a child only a mother could love” and another was labelled an “ugly duckling”.
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‘Delighted when hubby hung his first load of washing on the line,’ noted a Facebook friend. ‘Less delighted when I realised he didn’t use pegs.’
A domino run of comments followed, with women chortling over the guy who didn’t turn the iron on but flattened a shirt with it anyway, and the time a friend bet someone a bottle of Moet her partner wouldn’t notice if she didn’t wash his clothes for ten days.
As far as short cuts resulting in more work go, the non-use of pegs is right up there with the least thought-through of ideas. My 12-year-old did the same thing with her sister’s Pumpkin Patch bikini recently (last seen in the dog’s mouth, as he belted gleefully behind the pittosporum hedge).
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Between baby bonuses and maternity payments, pushy people and their prying questions, there is too much pressure to push out puppies.
And most of it comes from men.
I get that people want to reproduce. Really.
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Okay, so this is a delicate topic. How a woman ‘should’ give birth is such an emotion-charged issue because it’s something a woman has imagined since the moment she found out where babies come from.
If I am brutally honest, there are two camps of women here: one group of very vocal women who are yet to give birth, who are probably pregnant and have a very detailed birth plan (right down to scented candles and essentials oils). The other (far more realistic) group of women are the ones who know that a birth plan gets shot to shit when it’s crunch time.
And by crunch time, I mean that pivotal moment when you scream, “Please get this baby out of my body immediately, or I will kill someone.” (Not that I said this. In fact, I am surprised that for someone who likes profanities, I didn’t call my husband any names or tell him it was ‘his fault’. And whatever else Hollywood makes you believe is ‘normal’ during an intense delivery).
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I’m sick and tired of women turning on each other. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I don’t expect all of us to sit around singing Kumbayah.But surely a little bit of support from the Sisterhood isn’t out of the question.
The latest example of sororicide is the story entitled ‘Breastfeeding, it’s not about choice’, written for The Punch by Rita Panahai. Ms. Panahai contends that Australia has deplorable rates of breastfeeding because mothers are selfish. (I’d always thought was an oxymoron.)
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Sometimes you wonder whether you’re living in a parallel universe.
Like that South Park episode where Cartman is nice all the time, or in Seinfeld when Elaine meets Bizarro Jerry.
Or when the Federal Health Minister – who’s also the mother of a small child – won’t ban a toxic chemical that’s making babies sick.
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Not everyone wants to have children – in fact according to some recent research conducted by Schering Plough, about 24% of women surveyed said they don’t want to have children.
For the 76% who do, this survey highlighted the barriers faced by women in 2009 that affect their decisions about children.
In this group, almost two thirds (62%) of Gen Y women, those aged 18 – 29, say they will delay having kids now as they are concerned about the cost.
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