Drop-boxes for abandoning babies- what do you think?
Stumbled upon this during an image search for something else. I know about safe haven laws in the US but this takes the anonymity to a new level. A one-way drop box for abandoning your baby.
Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2170150/Babywiege-Newborns-abandoned-baby-boxes-German-hospital.html#ixzz2QyO2BYMq
At the top of the path, plants artfully disguise a heavy steel trapdoor fixed into a wall. It looks like a laundry hatch, but open it and inside is a cosy, lighted and heated cubicle.
That sign reads ‘Babywiege’, the German word for a cradle: a tactful name for a steel box where newborn babies can be abandoned in complete anonymity and privacy at the city’s Waldfriede Hospital. It is a practice accepted in Germany, yet it is illegal.
The ‘baby hatch’ is lined with a cheerful yellow baby changing-mat and a soft embroidered blanket. A plain white envelope addressed to the person abandoning their baby sits in the middle of the yellow blanket.
It contains a letter offering counselling to the grieving mother, and a telephone number. Once the steel door closes, it cannot be opened again: a sensor is triggered by the baby’s movement. An arrival is recorded by a small video camera in the corner of the box, and an alarm goes off within the hospital.
The future of a vulnerable new life is now out of the hands of its parents. It is 2012 and this is Germany, one of Europe’s strongest economies, yet the medieval phenomenon of foundlings – abandoned newborns – is on the rise.
She has fought many battles over the years to keep the hatch open. Advocates like her believe that without their work, babies would be abandoned on the streets or killed. To her, she is offering a service that cuts the number of infanticides in Germany.
'This does not deal with why they are there in the first place'
‘People say, how could a woman do this? How cruel. But fear is something personal. Fear, depression and denial: it is a psychological block and it can even lead some women to kill their babies right after birth,’ said Stangl, sitting in her counselling room in the hospital, surrounded by soothing pictures of pink roses and pot-pourri.
‘We have to be honest. Between 40 and 60 babies in Germany are killed every year. We find their bodies in toilets, forests, attics, carrier bags. Five years ago, there was a case of a mother in Germany who gave birth to ten babies in her life.
‘She killed six and buried them in flower pots and kept the pots in her garden and on the balcony, to keep her babies near her. She was a wonderful mother to the four who lived. The deaths were only discovered when she moved house and the new owner accidentally knocked over one of the pots.
‘Of course she was depressed. But it shows the quiet desperation of some women. We offer them help; a haven and in return we save lives.’
The staff at Waldfriede are in no doubt that abandonment is the hardest thing a mother can do, triggering emotions of loss akin to the death of a child.
It is the detail of individual cases that is shocking. Stangl has countless examples of women who are young, poor and in trouble who turn to the baby hatch or anonymous birth as an answer.
Yet abandonment of children is illegal in Germany because it denies the child the right to know where it came from.
Stangl has little sympathy with such niceties, saying: ‘Which is more important, protecting life or protecting roots? You need to be alive to have an identity.’
The number of baby hatches is on the rise worldwide and can be found in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, the U.S. and even Pakistan
So the hatches operate in a grey legal area, recognised by the German authorities for their life-saving work and help for desperate mothers, yet at odds with the law of the land.
Stangl has even received a medal of honour from the German government, illustrating the strange divide at the heart of public discourse.
The number of baby hatches is on the rise worldwide. Although there is no sign of any in Britain, they can be found in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic, the US and even in Pakistan. Proponents use the same kind of language as the religious Right and the pro-life lobby, say analysts. They talk of ‘protecting life’.
Opposition, though, is mounting. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child this year expressed concern about the rise in child abandonment worldwide and said it ‘contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by its parents’.
Committee member Maria Herczog has said there is no evidence that the hatches prevent infanticide. But there is another more disturbing criticism. By its very nature, it is anonymous, so who really leaves the babies in the boxes?
Kevin Browne, of the Centre for Forensic and Family Psychology at Nottingham University, carried out a two-year study into the trend and warned: ‘There is growing evidence that it is frequently men or relatives abandoning the child’.
Could it be that the babies are abandoned by angry fathers, relatives or even pimps?
What do you think? Good to prevent infanticide or not so good, encouraging abandonment and cutting children off from their roots?