SAVE THE BABIES.
Observer, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 13, 1 December 1917, Page 3
SAVE THE BABIES.
Ways and Means
STRANGE that it should be necessary to teach mothers not to kill their babies—which is the whole art of the Pliinket Society and the best part of the lifework of Dr Truby King, C.M.G. Note too that the application of science to the preservation of infant life is only necessary because of human decadence. It is always surprising to find that science is sometimes able, where nature has failed, to defeat Nature's intention to kill. An infant instinctively borne and maternaly fed is of course best equipped .for the battle of life, but civilisation has in countless instances made maternity partial, stopping at the production and incapable of rearing. Much humanity in short stops short of complete masculinity or complete femininity and it is perhaps the hope of science eventually, not to supplant Nature, but to enthrone her as she is enthroned in primitive communitifes.
There is no false delicacy in communities not civilised, and the least advanced peoples in apparent civil isation have the least unimpared instincts, physical power and abilities. National stress, war, jfspographieal disturbances and natural upheavals
decimate infant life, but in many cases force a return to natural means of rearing the young. Try to imagine this: An invading army is in the Auckland province. The invaders live on the country. The feeding of the civil population is not of the first consequence to the invaders. The whole of the cattle, and all milk-giving animals are used by the enemy. The adult civilian population may live but the problem is to feed the unweaned infants. There is no artificial food and no society can produce it. It is merely a question of returning to nature or allowing an immensely large proportion of infants to die. The mothers would not, under such circumstances (which have qccured in many parts of the world during the last 3£ years), allow their babies to die. Their natural instincts would be aroused. That is in effect the hope of humanity.
This in Auckland is "save the babies" time and Nature's way to save the babies has been set down in the aibove paragraphs. There ar|& no arguments about it. The human infant has the same right as the lamb in the paddock. In Mr Merino's paddocks there are 5000 ewes with infants. The man who had to supply spirit lamps and artificial food for that maternal association would go out of the sheep business and 1 yet that man's own offspring has the same right as that man's sheep. The sheep illustration is used in preference to a cattle illustration as artificiality is as deeply enthroned (for commercial reasons) there as in human life. The point of view is this. There are thousands of infants whose mothers cannot feed them. Are they worth saving? The scientific answer is yes, if artificial food is available, and the crop can be brought to useful maturity, possible strong middle-age and.probable happy old age.
Wherever there is a human spark it is the business of every person to fan it and keep it alive. The Plunket Society has, one earnestly believes, saved to N.Z. thousands of lives and has thus, increased the sum of human happiness and utility. There is no nobler purstrjit under heaven than that in which Dr Truby King and the unselfish people he has taught are engaged. The necessity for the physical salvation of human beings has never been so acute as now when the world is being robbed of its finest lives and the potential fathers of generations. The problem of declining birthrate is second only to the problem of saving alive those already born. The gradual return to Nature's instinctive methods may come as a necessity but in the meantime devoted people still advocating Nature do good substitute work which is having a profound influence on society in New Zealand. Te "Save the Babies" is to save the Empire.