Julia Gillard, Australia's Prime Minister, has apologized over the ''shameful'' practice of forced adoption during the 1950s and 1970s.
Tens of thousands unmarried, mostly teenage mothers, had their babies taken from them by the state and given to childless married couples, according to a government report.
The Fairfax Media cited Gillard as saying that many mothers were tricked into signing the papers, many of them while drugged and tied to their beds, by government agencies, hospitals, churches and charities.
A national apology was recommended by a Senate committee in 2012 after it found that up to 250,000 babies had been forcibly adopted according to the Associated Press.
Gillard told an audience of 800 in Australia's Parliament on Thursday:
"Today this Parliament on behalf of the Australian people takes responsibility and apologizes for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies, which created a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering. We acknowledge the profound effects of these policies and practices on fathers and we recognize the hurt these actions caused to brothers and sisters, grandparents, partners and extended family members. We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamental rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children."
Gillard also committed 5 million Australian dollars to support affected families, with some of the funding enabling biological families reunite.
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