The Week in Women: Volunteer cuddlers, ISIS babies, and a prison pregnancy scheme


Babies! Everyone loves ‘em (except this person). Over the past week, little bundles of cuteness made headlines in all sorts of sweet, inspiring, and just-plain-weird ways. Let’s take a look back, shall we?

Flex your cuddle muscles, because adoption agencies are seeking volunteers to temporarily care for babies while they await placement. ABC News reported that agencies need volunteers to take newborns into their homes for 2-4 weeks, giving them the love and affection they might otherwise miss in an institutional setting. Such programs relieve pressure from on-site staff and give valuable decision-making time to birth mothers who are considering adoption, but who have not decided on a long-term plan at the time of childbirth. Some agencies ask for less of a commitment, recruiting volunteers to simply snuggle newborns in on-site nurseries. In the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”

Five Canadian women have given birth, or will give birth, to the babies of ISIS fighters, according to a report from the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Researchers are tracking three mothers and two pregnant women as part of a larger study on foreign fighters who flee to the Middle East to join ISIS. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has called these findings “a very disturbing development,” and emphasized the importance of opening a national counter-radicalization office.

In what may be the wackiest news development of the week, a Vietnamese prisoner circumvented the death penalty by impregnating herself. Nguyen Thi Hue, a 42-year-old convicted drug trafficker who had been sentenced to death in 2014, reportedly paid a 27-year-old inmate $2,300 for his semen, which she then used to impregnate herself with a syringe. Under Vietnamese law, pregnant women or women with children younger than 3 years of age cannot be executed. When Nguyen gives birth to the baby, which is due in April, she will see her sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Here’s hoping the little one never asks his or her mother how babies are made.

A U.K. woman has attained social media fame by documenting the unusual way in which she spent her maternity leave. Karen Edwards, a first-time mom, traveled the world for 10 months with her partner and her infant daughter Esmé, setting out when their baby was just 10 weeks old. The family visited Ireland, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Edwards posted snapshots from their travels on her blog and Instagram account. For American readers, the most shocking aspect of this story is surely that women in other places of the world get a full 10 months of maternity leave. Be right back, just relocating to England.

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