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Furious Reaction to insensitive Caption of the Picture of Abandoned Baby Girl

Several Australian feminists have denounced Telegraph, a popular daily, for carrying a large picture of an abandoned infant girl and a caption alongside , How could she?

The all too obvious reference to the mother who abandoned the girl, for whatever reason, has infuriated many who say the newspaper has been insensitive.

"It is outrageous, it is irresponsible, it is unprofessional," said Jeff Kennett, who heads Beyond Blue, a national initiative to counter depression.

Catherine - as she has been named by her temporary carers - was found blue with cold in a cardboard fruit box, dumped outside the psychiatric wing of Dandenong Hospital early on Sunday morning.

She is now being cared for at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital.

"She (the mother) left it where she knew the baby would receive the best of care," Kennett said.

"We don't know whether she was suffering post-natal depression, or whether she was in a situation which meant she couldn't keep the child," he said.

Mr Kennett launched a scathing attack on The Daily Telegraph's editor David Penberthy, whom he blamed for allowing the headline to be published.

"This man in an absolutely irresponsible, uncaring, unprofessional way goes and allows a headline like that to be written. I don't think there's any excuse," Mr Kennett said.

But conservative Prime Minister John Howard defended the newspaper, saying the headline reflected how most people would react.

"In defence of the Tele, that's what most people say," Mr Howard told ABC Radio.

"I feel for the mother, I feel for the baby, I feel for the woman's family but fair go to The Tele, after all, that is the natural reaction.

"How could you abandon a little baby?"

A photo of the baby was given to media and Monday morning it was splashed across two tabloid front pages in different cities.

In Melbourne, the hea dline simply says, "Where's My Mum?" but Sydney's Daily Telegraph chose the words "How Could She?" prompting a furious reaction.

Jeff Kennett hit the airwaves with a blistering attack on the newspaper. He asked, We simply don't know the facts and without knowing the facts or having any idea about the circumstances, what right has anyone got to prejudge?

There could be a range of reasons why this girl has left her baby at the hospital. It's obviously a sign of care that she put it at a hospital, instead of just discarding the child, and it may be for a whole range of very good reasons.

Now she's obviously young, she's obviously scared, clearly the police and the authorities want to get her back into the circuit, not only to make sure she is in good health, but there might be some reconciliation with the child, Kennett noted.

But the newspapers editor David Penberthy defended himself saying, the headline was not intended to be some kind of moral judgment against that mother.

When you look at that baby, it's a beautiful picture of an adorable young child, not even a week old, you look at that photograph and instinctively, the first thing that you think of the first thing you say, or I would argue most people say, not to drift off into some kind of academic expostulation about what the causes for the baby being dumped outside a hospital, but to just think, how on earth could you get to a point where you do something that is so massively contrary to human instinct? That you will dump your own child within minutes of it being born.

Hospital spokeswoman Julie Webber said inquiries about adoption had also been received.

"We are being inundated with calls from the public wishing to provide clothing and other things, which is very nice," she said.

"We have had inquiries about adoption, but that is something that is being handled by the Department of Human Services (DHS). All we can do is to continue to provide the appropriate care and attention."

DHS officials on Monday applied for a carry-over interim order which would allow them to continue caring for the baby at the hospital.

DHS said Catherine would likely be put into foster care if the mother had not been found when the infant was ready to be discharged from hospital.


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