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In the course of the interview which the representatives of the New Zealand Branch of the B.M.A. had with the Minister of Heath and the Minister of Justice on 24th March, the reference was made to the refusal of authorities to admit unmarried women to the state of maternity hospitals for confinement.

The members of deputation said it was considered by the Association that the Government’s attitude should be not to make the difficulties of “the illegitimate” too great. The position at present was that women who had made the wrong step, but who were prepared to face the consequences rather than make a second blunder and risk their life by seeking abortion, had the doors of State maternity hospitals shut upon them and they were almost forced into the hands of the abortion-monger, or of the unscrupulous irregular midwife who took advantage of the patient’s dire circumstances to fleece her. The only other possible way out was to enter one or other of the religious institutions provided for these people, but by so doing the stigma of illegitimacy was emphasised and generally there were conditions attached to entrance which could not always be complied with.

In every way, it was submitted, the condition of the “illegitimate” was made too hard, and that, however moralists might view the question, it was not for the State to penalise or victimise its members who had erred against social law in complying, perhaps with natural law.

In the Melbourne and Sydney State maternity hospitals married and single alike were admitted. There was absolutely no distinction to be made. A single girl could assume a married name and could be placed alongside a married woman who regarded her as married. As far as was known no complaint had been made against such admissions. In New Zealand when a single girl in trouble came to a doctor he could only advise her to go to the Salvation Army Home, or some such institution. If, for instance, she was advised to go to St. Mary’s Home, in Auckland, she demurred because everyone knew that single girls went there. If she should be told to go to the St. Helen’s or some other maternity hospital, and that no difference would be made because she was single, she would be easier in mind, and would get quickly over her trouble, and it would undoubtedly tend to diminish abortion. In the opinion of the deputation it would noy tend to an increase of illegitimacy.

Further, it was thought that some provision should be made for the care of illegitimate children who might eventually become very valuable citizens, as they often did. A girl who had to go to her daily occupation might not be able to pay a premium for the adoption of her child, and if a home could be established it would be of great service to the State. There was at least one such home in Melbourne.

The opportunity was also taken of directing the attention of both the Ministers to what the members of the deputation considered the inadequate punishment meted out to men found to be guilty of carnal knowledge with young girls of the age of 14, or even younger, and more especially to those scoundrels who at the same time infect them with venereal disease. It was pointed out that many of these criminals pleaded guilty, that no medical evidence was called to prove the great damage done to these children, and that they frequently got off with the absurd punishment of two years’ imprisonment. The deputation strongly urged that in all such cases a report of medical examination be submitted, and that the widest powers be given to judges in dealing with this class of criminal.

——

After some discussion on the several questions raised, the Minster of Health promised to carefully consider the representations made by the deputation.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Nil.

NZMJ, July 1922, pp.176-177

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

In the course of the interview which the representatives of the New Zealand Branch of the B.M.A. had with the Minister of Heath and the Minister of Justice on 24th March, the reference was made to the refusal of authorities to admit unmarried women to the state of maternity hospitals for confinement.

The members of deputation said it was considered by the Association that the Government’s attitude should be not to make the difficulties of “the illegitimate” too great. The position at present was that women who had made the wrong step, but who were prepared to face the consequences rather than make a second blunder and risk their life by seeking abortion, had the doors of State maternity hospitals shut upon them and they were almost forced into the hands of the abortion-monger, or of the unscrupulous irregular midwife who took advantage of the patient’s dire circumstances to fleece her. The only other possible way out was to enter one or other of the religious institutions provided for these people, but by so doing the stigma of illegitimacy was emphasised and generally there were conditions attached to entrance which could not always be complied with.

In every way, it was submitted, the condition of the “illegitimate” was made too hard, and that, however moralists might view the question, it was not for the State to penalise or victimise its members who had erred against social law in complying, perhaps with natural law.

In the Melbourne and Sydney State maternity hospitals married and single alike were admitted. There was absolutely no distinction to be made. A single girl could assume a married name and could be placed alongside a married woman who regarded her as married. As far as was known no complaint had been made against such admissions. In New Zealand when a single girl in trouble came to a doctor he could only advise her to go to the Salvation Army Home, or some such institution. If, for instance, she was advised to go to St. Mary’s Home, in Auckland, she demurred because everyone knew that single girls went there. If she should be told to go to the St. Helen’s or some other maternity hospital, and that no difference would be made because she was single, she would be easier in mind, and would get quickly over her trouble, and it would undoubtedly tend to diminish abortion. In the opinion of the deputation it would noy tend to an increase of illegitimacy.

Further, it was thought that some provision should be made for the care of illegitimate children who might eventually become very valuable citizens, as they often did. A girl who had to go to her daily occupation might not be able to pay a premium for the adoption of her child, and if a home could be established it would be of great service to the State. There was at least one such home in Melbourne.

The opportunity was also taken of directing the attention of both the Ministers to what the members of the deputation considered the inadequate punishment meted out to men found to be guilty of carnal knowledge with young girls of the age of 14, or even younger, and more especially to those scoundrels who at the same time infect them with venereal disease. It was pointed out that many of these criminals pleaded guilty, that no medical evidence was called to prove the great damage done to these children, and that they frequently got off with the absurd punishment of two years’ imprisonment. The deputation strongly urged that in all such cases a report of medical examination be submitted, and that the widest powers be given to judges in dealing with this class of criminal.

——

After some discussion on the several questions raised, the Minster of Health promised to carefully consider the representations made by the deputation.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Nil.

NZMJ, July 1922, pp.176-177

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

In the course of the interview which the representatives of the New Zealand Branch of the B.M.A. had with the Minister of Heath and the Minister of Justice on 24th March, the reference was made to the refusal of authorities to admit unmarried women to the state of maternity hospitals for confinement.

The members of deputation said it was considered by the Association that the Government’s attitude should be not to make the difficulties of “the illegitimate” too great. The position at present was that women who had made the wrong step, but who were prepared to face the consequences rather than make a second blunder and risk their life by seeking abortion, had the doors of State maternity hospitals shut upon them and they were almost forced into the hands of the abortion-monger, or of the unscrupulous irregular midwife who took advantage of the patient’s dire circumstances to fleece her. The only other possible way out was to enter one or other of the religious institutions provided for these people, but by so doing the stigma of illegitimacy was emphasised and generally there were conditions attached to entrance which could not always be complied with.

In every way, it was submitted, the condition of the “illegitimate” was made too hard, and that, however moralists might view the question, it was not for the State to penalise or victimise its members who had erred against social law in complying, perhaps with natural law.

In the Melbourne and Sydney State maternity hospitals married and single alike were admitted. There was absolutely no distinction to be made. A single girl could assume a married name and could be placed alongside a married woman who regarded her as married. As far as was known no complaint had been made against such admissions. In New Zealand when a single girl in trouble came to a doctor he could only advise her to go to the Salvation Army Home, or some such institution. If, for instance, she was advised to go to St. Mary’s Home, in Auckland, she demurred because everyone knew that single girls went there. If she should be told to go to the St. Helen’s or some other maternity hospital, and that no difference would be made because she was single, she would be easier in mind, and would get quickly over her trouble, and it would undoubtedly tend to diminish abortion. In the opinion of the deputation it would noy tend to an increase of illegitimacy.

Further, it was thought that some provision should be made for the care of illegitimate children who might eventually become very valuable citizens, as they often did. A girl who had to go to her daily occupation might not be able to pay a premium for the adoption of her child, and if a home could be established it would be of great service to the State. There was at least one such home in Melbourne.

The opportunity was also taken of directing the attention of both the Ministers to what the members of the deputation considered the inadequate punishment meted out to men found to be guilty of carnal knowledge with young girls of the age of 14, or even younger, and more especially to those scoundrels who at the same time infect them with venereal disease. It was pointed out that many of these criminals pleaded guilty, that no medical evidence was called to prove the great damage done to these children, and that they frequently got off with the absurd punishment of two years’ imprisonment. The deputation strongly urged that in all such cases a report of medical examination be submitted, and that the widest powers be given to judges in dealing with this class of criminal.

——

After some discussion on the several questions raised, the Minster of Health promised to carefully consider the representations made by the deputation.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Nil.

NZMJ, July 1922, pp.176-177

Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

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