Wednesday 9 February 2011

Forced Adoption Victims and DES

DES Action Australia-NSW has made submissions to the Australian Senate Inquiry "Commonwealth contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices".

These can be found on Google Search "Australian Senate Inquiries", click on "Current Inquiries", click on "Commonwealth contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices", click on "Submissions received".
Click on No:21, followed by Supplementary Submission.

DES Action Australia-NSW has received numerous phone calls from women who were forced adoption victims and given DES as lactation suppressant (to stop breast milk). They report DES being given without informed consent and sometimes as excessive doses. There is an anecdotal report of extraordinarily high (80%) incidence of breast, cervical and ovarian cancers in a survey of forced adoption victims by the group, Origins NSW. Another survey by Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN), a support organisation for former State Wards, shows 41% incidence of teenage pregnancy.

In view of the above information, the submissions by DES Action Australia-NSW urge that there be research on possible effects of DES usage as lactation suppressant.

News update:On 29/4/11 DES Action Australia-NSW made representation as witness before the Senate Committee for this Inquiry. The Committee conveyed intention of investigating the matter of researching this usage as lactation suppressant and commented that they had "homework"to do on this. A suggestion was flagged about the merits of bringing all involved groups together to gather information about possible long-term effects of DES as lactation suppressant.
The witness transcript is available for viewing by clicking the link for Sydney Location (29/4/11) at:
Some media response:
UPDATE 15/3/12
In February the Senate Committee released the Inquiry's Report, recommending that Australian Governments must apologise to the mothers and children who suffered because of forced adoption practices. Whilst this is pleasing, the Report has ignored the issue of excessive DES dosages given (reported by doctor witness in NSW Inquiry "Releasing the Past", 2000). Similar to "Releasing the Past", this report has failed to mention that to date there has been no research conducted on possible health effects of DES usage as a lactation suppressant. There is no mention of any of the concerns raised in the Submission by DES Action Australia-NSW.
UPDATE 11/4/12
The following concerns about the Inquiry Report have been forwarded to the office of Senator Sue Boyce (Inquiry committee member):
  • its failure to mention instances where DES was administered sometimes in excessive doses (as was acknowledged by a witness doctor in the NSW Inquiry "Releasng the Past", 2000)
  • its failure to mention the health concerns by forced adoption victims in relation to DES usage and their observation of frequent reports of cancer incidence
  • its failure to mention that there is no existent research in relation to possible effects with the usage of DES as lactation suppressant
  • its failure to mention that babies of forced adoption victims would have ingested DES in breast milk when breastfed by other women patients with abundant breast milk who were receiving DES as lactation suppressant
  • its failure to give indication of further consultation with forced adoption groups or any further investigation on the matter of this DES usage.
UPDATE 22/8/12
Senator Boyce's office suggested that representation of these matters be made on the National Apology Reference Committee.
The following was relayed to us by Senator Boyce's office yesterday:
DES Action Australia-NSW is NOT included in the National Forced Adoption Apology Reference Group and this has been the decision of Attorney General Nicola Roxon.

UPDATE 21/2/13
A few years ago DES Action Australia-NSW requested copy of Origins group health survey that was submitted to the NSW Inquiry "Releasing the Past", 2000. The reason for this request was cited that a copy was not made by Origins when submitting this document.  The request was unsuccessful because NSW Parliament deemed this document as "not for public". The Origins group recently requested copy of this submission and were informed that this document has been lost.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your 2 submissions to the Forced Adoptions Inquiry. I am concerned that you are mentioning STATE WARDS - the majority of natural mothers who were injected with DES WITHOUT CONSENT were not State Wards and the figure of 100,000 is incorrect also.

Natural mothers were given DES to stop lactation and whilst the unborn baby could be affected by this drug, the natural mothers were not given this drug UNTIL AFTER THE BIRTH OF THEIR BABY. Grave concerns must continually be raised for the health of the natural mother.

As a natural mother I suffered uterus cancer 5 years after receiving DES to stop lactation without my consent and at the age of 23 had to undergo a hysteroctomy because of uterus cancer. An inquiry into the amount of natural mothers who suffered cancer after receiving this drug to stop lactation must be held.

The company that made this drug have advised THAT USING DES TO STOP LACTATION was never recommended by the manufacturers therefore those that used DES in this manner have illegal used DES against the instructions of the manufacturers. This further highlights intent and disregard for the lives of natural mother. The subjects need to be separated under this forced adoption inquiry - NATURAL MOTHERS RECEIVED DES and the majority were not STATE WARDS. So it would be appreciated if your submission could be amended deleting THE WORDING STATE WARDS because any contact with CLAN immediately gives the impression STATE WARDS and that too is incorrect. Stating also FORCED ADOPTION VICTIMS - I am not a victim - I am a natural mother who was illegal separated from my baby at birth WITHOUT MY CONSENT and received the DES drug as well as other lethal drugs i.e. phycho-pharamcetical treatment to forget my baby and throughout my life I have suffered many forms of cancer i.e. uterus, breast and brain tumours all as a result of DES and this has been agreed upon by my specialists.

Carol Devine said...

Thank you for commenting on this post. I am sorry to hear of your ordeals and health problems. The submissions are based on what we have seen and heard and attempts to leave no stone unturned in responding to government, even by offering estimation figures. It is baffling and frustrating that there has been no research on any possible health effects of DES usage as a lactation suppressant. The first submission gives details of its usage as lactation suppressant across the wide spectrum of women. At the moment, attributing any health problems to this usage is only speculation. The submission's suggestion for research on those women given DES in excessive dosages includes suggestion that a comparison study also be done of ALL women receiving normal doses.

Anonymous said...

DES or Stilboestral was and is a known carcinogenic given as a de-lactate to 'unwed' vulnerable and guileless young girls and women who were abondoned by their male counterpart, and society at large.

The drug companies promoted this as a de-lactate amongst ither things, and now state they did not.
Do these drug companies feel no shame?

Anonymous said...

There is very much evidence of DES damaging girls, women when used as a de-lactate.
Smd what is this that you as an organisation ar accountable to the government only Carol Devine.

There is something odd about this site and our barister is taking steps to see what it is.

Take care

Anonymous said...

The horrifying bullying which occured during the baby scoop era included the use of Stilboestral/DES or other banes for same drug (used without informed knowing what it was and also whilst girls were under influence of other coerced drugs to sedate them into signing consents.
DES Action Group we wonder how and when you are going to raise this further 'cause this drug was and is known as carcinogenic.
Where's the justice unless this drug company compensate.
We are terrified this happened and could again if some American drug company plays 'guinea pigs' with their multi national company drugs.
Shameful behaviour from producers of DES.
Exposure in manistrean media and further afield.
The DES action group is pussy footing, and what's the point. this is not incidental it's very unethical and unjust.
Bronwyn and family (Adoptive children and parents)

Carol Devine said...

Bronwyn, thank you for commenting. There are a number of obstacles in progressing the issue of DES usage as lactation suppressant. The major one is the fact there has been NO research world-wide about this particular usage of DES (and this has been verified by DES Action USA). The knowledge alone that DES is a carcinogenic substance is not enough. Progress is hinged on the existence of research to confirm adverse effects on this particular usage. Another obstacle has been the lack credible surveys by Forced Adoption groups to show any health effects that would indicate to governments/researchers the need for research. The group DES Action Australia-NSW only has anecdotal evidence of a survey by the group "Origins". (The only copy of this survey is in a document held by the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry "Releasing the Past" and this document has been deemed not for public viewing.) The DES Action Australia-NSW submission to the current Federal Inquiry is there for all the world to see. Should nothing be done by government towards researching this problem as a result of this Inquiry, then at least the information in the submission should be enough to spur Forced Adoption groups in Australia to work towards surveying the health of those mothers given DES as lactation suppressant (sometimes in large doses) and then to produce these results to government/researchers. I also wish to add that this blog site is testimony of the difficulties encountered with government, even when research does confirm adverse effects with DES usage during pregnancy. Advice by the National Health and Medical Research Council is that research about DES in Australia is not a priority. It does not help where the government's Therapeutic Goods Administration is 100% funded by pharmaceutical industries. The DES Action group in NSW is unfunded, run by volunteers.

Anonymous said...

...We read at your witness at committee: ...."a suggestion was made to bring all incolved groups together ...."
(words to this effect.)
What about individuals and their associates who have realistic concerns about DES?
This has been left out of the 'suggestions' why?
And why did DES Action Group not raise this.
There are many people who are not affiliated to 'Adoption' or 'DES' 'groups' yet remain with deserving their views heard and acknowledged humanity concerns about DES.
Australia is made up of many diverse people, each and every one having a responsible right to voice human concerns about any human rights and social issues concerns, inlcuding re. this one.
Thank you for giving this your understanding Carol Devine and DES Action Group.
We acknowledge the good you have done.
We accept however, there are more than groups who have and/or would submitt/ed material to the Senate inquiry and also to the DES site, constructively.

Carol Devine said...

Bringing involved groups together is for the purpose of running surveys and collating results about possible adverse effects of DES. The benefits of this work would ultimately be passed on to the many individuals who are not involved with groups.