CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Protecting right to be born and cared fo

HONG KONG (SE): The Birthright Society submitted a representation to the Equal Opportunities Commission on September 29 last year during the period of the proposed Discrimination Law Review Public Consultation pointing out what it sees as being a contradiction in the proposed Disability Discrimination Ordinance.

The chairperson of the Birthright Society, Peter Au Yung Kar-kit, explained that he believes there is an anomaly in the ordinance in that an unborn child with a disability is legally allowed to have life ended, whereas those who are born with a disability are protected by law under the ordinance.

He reiterated his concern at the annual general meeting of the society on October 30 and the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, said that he believes that there is a need to cherish the lives of those in society who are small, weak or needy, saying that the Jubilee Year of Divine Mercy places great emphasis on its positive impact on the health of wider society.

The Birthright Society offers concrete assistance and guidance to young women experiencing what may be described as unexpected or unplanned pregnancies.

In conjunction with the social services offered by Caritas Hong Kong, it can provide temporary accommodation and even financial help for those who need it.

The annual report of the society points out that the generous contributions of supporters makes this important service possible. It notes, “Even a short stay will help these mothers overcome their distress.”

In the past year, a total of 30 young women in distress were helped in this way.

Also in cooperation with Caritas, the society promoted Project Hyacinth, aimed at preventing young women under 24 from having to have repeated abortions.

Au Yeung said that these people are identified from their attendance at public hospitals.

“A close liaison is maintained between the hospital and the project team to establish counselling and assistance whenever necessary,” the annual report says.

Youth outreach programmes in the city are also monitored and vulnerable young women are offered the opportunity to develop their life goals, through close and intensive psychological help for postpartum depression or anxiety, as well as follow ups, in addition to providing development of support systems between them and their families.

In the previous year, 166 young women took part in this programme and a total of 368 attended 23 service programmes run by Project Hyacinth.

The programmes cover areas such as vocational training, computer skills, financial literacy, job trials at Green Baby and its partners, as well as job placements and on the job counselling.

Green Baby is a programme run by Caritas providing affordable baby care products, as well as recycled accessories and useful items for infant care for the home and daily life.

The society also carried out 3,027 home visits for counselling, interviews with the family or joint interviews arranged with other professional services.

In addition, 50 young mothers joined in 80 community training sessions, support groups or other educational activities on child rearing.

The society works to run on a peer education model and this year 17 young women who had become mothers in their teens were recruited to receive training to become helpers and educators.

The society runs a 24-hour hotline and during the past year 124 applications for help were received over the telephone. It also provides an immediate response to people who sometimes are only seeking a word of support.

Follow up can be offered to all who ask for assistance.


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