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Babies: Baby Chutes, Should they be universal?
Baby Chutes Should they become universal? The recent discovery of the body of a newborn baby left abandoned in a Shoebox here in Sydney Australia has prompted calls for a new approach by hospitals to introduce 'baby hatches'. The baby hatches are fitted to the outer walls of hospitals-and are widespread in Germany,The United States and Japan.
Whilst the debate about abortion continues to boil especially in the United States. Another method of dealing with unwanted offspring is Baby Chutes. This column is not advocating the use of Baby chutes but rather pointing out alternatives to abandoning or worse killing of an unwanted infant.
The chutes allow women to abandon their babies anonymously but without endangering the life of the child.
Every year, just four or five babies are left in a specially constructed hatch at the Waldfriede Hospital in Berlin. The CEO Bernd Quoss says Waldfriede was the first hospital in the world to introduce the baby hatches 10 years ago. To me four or five babies means that the issue is not widespread. As such I believe it is better to have the chutes rather than a baby be abandoned in a rubbish bin.
There are now 45 hospitals around Germany that have these baby chutes, as a consequence the number of newborns found dumped in forests or rubbish skips has dropped.
In Germany we have the situation that many women abandon their newborn babies, for example in rubbish skips, and as a Christian hospital we wanted to prevent that. We wanted to protect the lives of these babies and that's why we set up the baby hatch. The goal was to save the lives of these babies. These babies might well otherwise been left in a dangerous place such as a dumpster.
The baby hatch is a drawer that's fixed to an outer wall of the hospital and lined with a mattress and blankets. Once a baby is left there, an alarm goes off after two minutes to alert nursing staff and allow the mother enough time to leave the hospital grounds anonymously.
The Hospital says a third of the mothers who leave their babies there later make contact with the hospital.
We often find that the mothers say they're grateful that they had the option of the baby hatch otherwise they admit they would have killed their babies. We have many women who contact the hospital after six months or a year and want to know where their baby is now or if they can take their baby back - that's quite common.
I think that it's worth investigating. I think that what we've got is a situation where even if we can save one child's life we'll have done a good thing.
Dr Joe Tucci is the CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation. He says there have been prominent cases of abandoned newborns such as baby Catherine and baby Joan who were found at a hospital and a church doorstep. But he says there could be more babies that aren't discovered in time.
I think what is does is that it gives an opportunity for mums who are in a particular state of mind to at least attempt to look after their child whilst they're making that decision about not being their guardians. And I think these kinds of baby chute can in certain circumstances save the life of a child. And if that's the case, then why wouldn't we look at it?
But there's criticism that baby hatches are a too simplistic solution.
Anne-Lyse DeGuio is the director of research and education at Tresillian Family Care Centre.
That may be one solution, but at the end of the day the woman is still left alone, physically, emotionally and mentally absolutely unwell and not assisted. And we haven't sorted the problem out, and so I think it is so tragic because their future is so much at risk.
The problem is more complex than postnatal depression and that these women need much more support, otherwise there's a risk it will happen again. What do you readers think ?