The Bishops' Committee for Family and for Life is calling on the Government to review its current handling of pregnant refugees following the reported near full-term abortion of an unborn child just days after the mother was deported from Australia to China.
    Although the Department of Immigration and Foreign Affairs has announced that it will hold a departmental investigation into the incident, the Bishops' Committee does not believe this will provide the best long-term solution to avoiding this tragedy again.
    "If the departmental investigation shows that a woman who was eight and a half months pregnant with her second child was sent back to China, which we know to have a very strict One-Child Policy, then I believe the Australian government has blood on its hands," said Bishop Pat Power, Secretary for the Bishops' Committee for Family and for Life. "We cannot be responsible for all pregnant women in China but we should be responsible for those in Australia. The most significant question in my mind is why a woman who had been detained in Australia as a refugee for nearly three years was sent back to China only weeks before her baby was due to be born?"
    The Bishops' Committee suggests that Australia should look more towards the American model on this issue in which asylum seekers can seek refuge on the basis of China's one-child policy.
    "I am sure that most Australians sitting in their kitchens this morning would have been repulsed by this story this morning," said Bishop Power. "The disregard shown to this poor mother cannot go unnoticed. We, as a nation and as individuals, have responsibilities not just under human rights but as human beings to ensure this atrocity does not happen again."

3:32pm 6/5/99 / Cath Bishops' Conf


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