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Ethics watchdogs call for end to baby hatches

The Local · 27 Nov 2009, 11:07

Published: 27 Nov 2009 11:07 GMT+01:00

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There are some 80 Babyklappen across the nation meant to provide parents with a safe and legal way to surrender newborn infants to state care. The concept, which dates back to medieval Catholic churches, was instituted in Germany in 1999 to help prevent infanticide.

But on Thursday the Council said that the hatches, which parents have used to give up some 500 babies so far, should be closed because the most at-risk women fail to use them and they deny children the right to know their origins.

“The German Ethics Council suggests that pregnant women and mothers in emergency situations be aided as much as possible without damaging the rights of others - their children in particular,” a statement said.

The organisation called for a renewed dialogue about how to improve prenatal social services for women.

On Friday, the Catholic Women’s Welfare Service, which oversees 19 baby hatches, said the call for change deserved recognition.

“We simply can’t continue this way,” the organisation’s leader Maria Elisabeth Thoma told daily Frankfurter Rundschau, adding that the legal concerns of the Ethics Council were convincing.

She encouraged the German government to find a way to insure legal certainty for the mothers and children in such situations.

Meanwhile deputy parliamentary floor leader for Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), Ingrid Fischbach, told daily Rheinische Post that the country needs a new legislation to protect the rights of mothers and babies.

“We want a law that insures confidential birth and improves the counselling services for pregnant women in need,” she told the paper. This law would include temporary anonymity for women who wished to give up their babies. After a limited period of time their information would be handed over to the civil registry office where it could potentially be accessed by their child.

Story continues below…

Despite baby hatches throughout Germany, gruesome cases of infanticide and child abandonment still continue to make national headlines. The most notorious case involved a woman jailed for 15 years in 2006 for the manslaughter of eight babies.

Sabine Hilschenz, a divorced, unemployed and alcoholic dental assistant from a depressed area of eastern Germany, hid the corpses in buckets, flowerpots and an old fish tank at her parents' home.

In October, the remains of four babies were found in a Berlin apartment following the suicide of their alleged mother. Later the same month a man’s dog found a dead infant along Munich’s Isar River bank.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:09 November 27, 2009 by William Thirteen
love the signage!
17:42 November 27, 2009 by Cincinnatus
More evidence of the depth of personal irresponsibility fostered by socialism. There will never be life without consequences. Teach your children how to accept responsibility and the character to do the right thing. The job of government is NOT to remove all responsibility for bad decisions from their most irresponsible citizens.
19:50 November 27, 2009 by nepo77
The Babyhatch system is revolutionary and even if it might seem from a episode of "Futurama", it saves Lifes. The Ethic council thinks it can control everything but it cant.
23:54 November 27, 2009 by Talonx
"More evidence of the depth of personal irresponsibility fostered by socialism"

Are you nuts, what does this have to do with socialism. Even if it did have anything to do with socialism, your argumentation is destroyed by infant mortality and abandonment in 'democratic' (single quotes for ambiguity not sarcasm) societies like the U.S.

I fail to see how protecting the life a born child is removing responsibility. Sort of a zero sum issue.
06:04 November 28, 2009 by Cincinnatus
Dear Talonx - Don't worry. I can see that you were educated in Germany. I won't embarrass you with explicit refutation. You Marxists wouldn't understand anyway.
09:25 November 28, 2009 by Talonx
Actually I'm an American educated in the Midwest (Indiana to be specific).

Marxism by the way is not the same thing as Socialism. Regardless of what your saviour Beck tells you.

In any case, you don't leave much to respond to so I'll assume you have nothing more to say. Next time, maybe you should try to get your talking points out of the records of factual events and books rather than stock phrases provided by undereducated professional opinionists with zero real world experience outside the U.S.
17:11 November 28, 2009 by YankeeT
The babies are safer in "the system" than with the people that brought them into the world. The orphanage or other institutions can feed and care for these young ones until one of us steps up and accepts the responsibility for raising them.

I don't doubt the baby hatch system has saved these young lives.

Vangi33: Take a closer look at signage William Thirteen loves so much. The baby is placed in a crib, not a metal box. (When the hatch is opened an alarm goes off in the building so a worker can collect the child immediately. I don't doubt a camera is set up on the other side of the wall where the crib sits so that workers can see the baby as another goes to collect it.) This should have been obvious.
15:01 November 29, 2009 by Deutschguy
Everything is a trade off. The baby's life is saved, and probably has higher quality long-term, BECAUSE there is total anonymity for the mother. That the baby can't know its origins is sad, but it's better than having the child abandoned or murdered.

Cincinnatus is an idiot. I'm an American capitalist pig and educated in the US, and I still believe the Babyklappen system is a wise and compassionate thing to have.
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