Thursday, January 18, 2018

Have compassion for new mom


far from criminal: Roxanne Agard leaves the Arima Magistrates' Court on Friday. She was charged with wilful abandonment and exposing her child's life to danger. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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Society should have compassion on mothers who are driven to abandon newborn babies. Such mothers would do so only in deepest despair, usually because there is not a man willing to own up as a father and because they are single and probably already in financial straits.

The case in question is that of Roxanne Agard, who left her baby outside of the St Mary's Children's Home in Tacarigua on Christmas Eve. The act of leaving a child outside of an orphanage shows that this mother, far from being a criminal, had conceived of a way to afford the child a chance to live and be cared for. This mother could have done 1,000 things that could have led to her baby losing its life. Instead, she did something that gave the child a chance.

In the United States, many churches encourage mothers who conceive of unwanted babies to avoid discarding them in dumpsters or garbage heaps where they are often found dead but, instead, to place them anonymously outside of churches in specially placed bassinets where they can be found and cared for. Churches advertise this service to distressed mothers-to-be, so they have an option that assures the safety (and life) of the child. This act on the part of churches removes a criminal burden from the mother. She can anonymously place the child in the basket, knowing it would be taken in and would be safe.

I find it appalling that this woman is paraded before the public, with police escort, when everything about her actions suggests she was a good person, but in distress. Where is the father in this? It takes two to make a child.

This case belongs outside of the criminal realm and should be handled by the Social Services. The woman probably is burdened. She should be allowed to see the child, and ways should be found to assist her in improving her life. Abandoning a child at Christmas was not an easy thing for this mother. Let's have compassion on her.

Theodore Lewis