Concealed Pregnancy & Newborn Abandonment: A Contemporary Problem

The Perceptions of Pregnancy blog, like the Researchers’ Network, aims to reach beyond boundaries and borders, and to facilitate an international and interdisciplinary conversation on pregnancy and its associated bodily and emotional experiences from the earliest times to the present day. This week’s timely post is contributed by Sylvia Murphy Tighe and Prof Joan Lalor of Trinity College, Dublin.

Concealed Pregnancy & Newborn Abandonment: A Contemporary Problem

The recent case of Baby Maria who was found by a passer-by in Dublin on 8 May is a reminder of Ireland’s sad legacy of concealed pregnancies in traumatic and difficult circumstances. There are many views strongly held by those who have not been affected as to why women conceal a pregnancy. It is not uncommon for those perceptions to be negative. It is often assumed that concealed pregnancy is confined to history and is an artefact of a time when pregnancy outside of marriage was shunned. Although concealed pregnancy is not exclusive to Ireland, it has been associated with countries where Catholicism is the dominant religion. Ireland has a shameful history when it comes to women and their reproductive rights which continue to be legally controlled by the 8th Amendment which gives equal right to life to the mother and fetus. Ireland has a national biography that is characterised by the scars of mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries and forced adoption, each seen as a State sponsored solution to pregnancy outside of marriage.

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