Safe haven legislation set to aid struggling new mothers

A CALL for baby safe havens in Queensland, allowing mums to anonymously give up their babies, has support from the state's medical community.

The LNP Women's Redlands branch successfully carried a motion on the weekend to call on the Queensland Government to enact legislation to introduce the havens in this state.

The women argued birth mothers should be allowed to "safely and anonymously (if desired) relinquish their newborn babies without prosecution" and that those babies should be "placed for adoption under Queensland Adoption Laws".

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Christian Rowan said the safe haven legislation could form one part of a support plan to aid struggling new mothers.

He said the practical operation would need good consultation with professionals to create an appropriate legislative framework but he said he had trouble thinking of any negatives.

"It has the significant benefit of saving lives, not only for newborn babies but also engaging mothers who may have other physical or mental health issues related to what can be the unexpected birth of a baby," he said.

"What this is really about is trying to reduce adverse outcomes and health consequences."

Dr Rowan said the safe haven debate needed to focus on health concerns instead of law and order issues.

He said sometimes babies could be harmed directly but also from being abandoned.

"If a baby is abandoned in a toilet block or somewhere, it can become hypothermic which could have catastrophic outcomes which are not good for the community, mother or baby," he said.

The baby safe haven legislation - which exists in Europe and some states in America - is aimed at preventing harm to children either through mistreatment or through exposure after abandonment.

The debate in Australia was ignited in 2010 after a mother was convicted of murdering her two-day-old daughter in Victoria and a dead newborn girl was found in a shoe box in Sydney.

Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis said there were currently no Australian jurisdictions legislatively supporting safe havens "to capture infant abandonment".

Since the call for the Newman government to enact the legislation came only on the weekend, Ms Davis was unable to express an opinion on the idea's merit.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said she felt a law change enabling mothers to give up their children for adoption anonymously should happen.

"Anyone who wants to relinquish a child anonymously should be allowed to," she said.

"What we don't want is children being mistreated.

"We don't want ,who are not coping, or feel guilty, to harm a child because they feel they have no other option."

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