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Catholic Church apologises for forced adoptions in Australia

Mothers have described being shackled and sedated as their newborn children were taken away in Church-run hospitals.

File photo of a newborn baby
File photo of a newborn baby
Image: Jon Ovington via Flickr

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH has issued a national apology to thousands of women whose newborn babies were forcibly taken away for adoption in Australia.

It’s estimated that 150,000 new mothers had their children taken against their will by churches and adoption agencies from the 1950s to the 1970s. Some have described being shackled or sedated as their babies were taken, and not being allowed to hug or touch their child after the birth.

The Catholic Church yesterday issued a statement saying the adoptions were “deeply regrettable”, the Daily Telegraph reports. It continued: “We acknowledge the pain of separation and loss felt then and felt now by the mothers, fathers, children, families and others involved in the practices of the time. For this pain we are genuinely sorry.”

The apology came after an investigation by the country’s ABC News which uncovered harrowing accounts of babies being taken away. Juliette Clough said she was just 16 when she gave birth in 1970 at a Catholic hospital in Newcastle. She told ABC News:

My ankles were strapped to the bed, they were in stirrups and I was gassed, I had plenty of gas and they just snatched away the baby. You weren’t allowed to see him or touch him, anything like that, or hold him and it was just like a piece of my soul had died. And it’s still dead.

Read more: Former child migrants seek compensation for alleged child abuse >

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Michael Freeman

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