Source: The Mercury, Friday, Novermber 13, 1998, p.2
By FIONA CONNOLLY in Canberra HALF the women who fell pregnant in Australia last year failed to have a live baby, a national study has revealed. Of the 500,000 Australian women expecting a child, 150,000 miscarried, 95,000 aborted their pregnancy and 2000 babies were stillborn. Statistics also show the number of babies born to unmarried mothers is on the rise. The number of married mothers who gave birth during 1997 toppled to an all-time low of 180,000. Most babies born in wedlock arrived in the second year of marriage compared with the fourth year just a decade ago. According to figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in three Australian babies were last year born out of wedlock taking in 28% of all births-a 70% increase over the past 10 years. Church groups and right-to- life organisations have been quick to voice their concern over the increased abortions in Australia over the past year. Concerned that abortions were becoming an "easy option" for unmarried and young mothers, the Catholic Church yesterday spoke out. "Ninety-five thousand abortions in this country last year is a staggering figure, that is 10 times the people that were lost in hurricane Mitch," says Mon-signor John Walsh for the Catholic Church's Archdiocese of Sydney. "The real issue is people have the freedom to engage in sexual relationships without concern for consequences. As long as that is the attitude, abortion will always be there," he said. But the Australian Medical Association was not surprised by the abortion figures. "None of us like the idea of a termination-it's a necessary evil in the world and nowadays we don't want too many unwanted children," AMA obstetrician representative Dr Keith Hollybone said. "Abortions get done these days and that's all there is to it." Dr Hollybone was unconcerned by the number of miscarriages. "Somewhere between 10 and 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriages, so the figures are reasonable-it is something I would expect," he said. He said the figures were in line with his experience of miscarriages and stillbirths but warned of the factors contributing to these. "Some forms of drug abuse can cause a miscarriage but mainly it is chromosome insufficiency, incompetent cervix problems, fevers or infections," he said. The figures also showed half the number of unmarried pregnancies occurred in de facto relationships. Family and Community Services Minister Jocelyn Newman said most babies born out of wedlock came from long-term relationships. "We want to see more education in schools and in the home about how to become a parent- and a good parent," she said.
Birth figure shock: Married mums number declines
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