**Check out this article we found in The Economist.**
Should the state allow mothers to abandon their newborn babies?
FOUNDLINGS? In 2012? Yes, mothers still dump unwanted newborns in boxes and steal away. Foundling wheels were an artefact of medieval times; but they reappeared in 2000 in Hamburg, where a lot of abandoned babies were dying. Now Germany has around 200 places where a mother can either leave her baby—heated “baby hatches”, usually with an alarm to summon a carer—or where she can give birth anonymously. They have taken charge of around a thousand babies, many of whom will never know where they came from.
Such refuges are “a last chance to give an opportunity to save a life,” says Gabriele Stangl, chaplain of the Waldfriede hospital in Berlin, which runs one. But there is a problem: abandoning children is illegal. The German constitution gives citizens a right to “knowledge of their origins” and fathers a right to help bring up their children. Both are breached when a mother gives birth anonymously. Baby hatches are tolerated, but operate in a legal grey area.
Ever since the Hamburg hatch opened, there have been arguments over whether to ban or sanction them. The debate intensified in February with the publication of a study by the German Youth Institute, which found that the anonymous services had lost trace of a fifth of all abandoned babies. Foes have long insisted that baby hatches do not save lives (neonatal deaths have not dropped). They compete with services that offer more responsible care, argues Terre des Hommes, a child-care charity. In 2009 the German Ethics Council, an independent body, said baby hatches and other anonymous birth services should be replaced by “confidential child delivery” with a limited anonymity right. Since the Youth Institute findings such demands have grown louder.
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