Essay Baby Hatch

When the concept of a baby hatch was first introduced in Malaysia a few years ago, the unsettling term brought into public consciousness two jarring images – one of human birth and fragility and the other of a sterile holding place.

Even though baby hatches provide a second chance to women by giving mothers another option when they are driven into a corner out of desperation, it will always be regarded with unease. The solution seems almost too practical, while also being symptomatic of far deeper social problems.

When I pay a visit to the Baby Hatch at OrphanCARE, I arrive early to find it camouflaged in a typical PJ neighbourhood. OrphanCARE’s office stands exactly like the rest of the houses around it – neatly kept, shoes on the front porch, air condition churning.

The only thing that differs is the hatch. Next to its front door is a contraption with clear signage and simple instructions for how to place a baby inside: step 1, open hatch door; step 2, place baby in cot; step 3, fill in a form and slip it in before shutting the hatch door.

A neighbour drives by and I catch myself trying to look nonchalant, making sure they see my empty-handedness and that I am waiting for someone, not hurrying to leave unseen. In that moment, I glimpse the stigma placed on the women who come here for help. Then I realise that I’m only experiencing a fraction of a fraction of their shame. These women have most likely exhausted all other options before arriving at this point. Although the illustrated guidelines on the baby hatch runs to only three steps, it is unquestionably a far more drawn out process for any mother.

According to statistics provided by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, there were 31 reported cases of baby dumping in Malaysia up to July this year. Cases dropped slightly from 2008 to 2009, but since then they have increased in 2010 and 2011, with 91 and 98 cases per year respectively. National and international press have drawn attention to an “epidemic” of baby dumping in Malaysia, especially following particularly horrific cases such as babies being dropped from windows.

OrphanCARE was founded in 2008 to give mothers an alternative. Kim Rozali, a trustee of OrphanCARE Foundation, tells me that they have had 71 babies put up for adoption since they began and only three people have chosen to use the hatch to protect their anonymity. Kim explains that mothers who choose to put their babies up for adoption the conventional way will receive financial reimbursement from the foster parents for medical bills.

As she potters about the office, Kim talks with ease about how things work here at OrphanCARE. When it finally comes to the part where she shows us how to use the hatch, she grabs an oversized ragdoll and proceeds to talk me through the process in a matter-of-fact way: once OrphanCARE’s baby hatch is opened, lights and air-conditioning are triggered and the mother can lay her baby in the cot. This will in turn activate a signal sound that alerts the caretaker on 24-hour duty.

Hatch babies are automatically categorised as Muslim if there is no other identification available and are under the care of the state. Once foster parent candidates are found, they appear in court along with an officer from Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (Department of Social Welfare) and a representative from OrphanCARE. The foster parents will be put through a trial period of two to three months caring for the baby. After that period, the foster parents are required to go back into court before being granted two years (for Muslims) or six months (for non-Muslims) of care, after which they will be able to fully adopt the child. During foster care period, the biological parents are allowed to reclaim the baby.

Kim reveals that those who come to OrphanCARE to put their babies up for adoption are “roughly 85% Malay” and mostly students. While it is impossible to gather exact statistics on the demographic of women who leave their children for adoption, Kim’s estimate is indicative of a growing concern for the specific pressures faced by Muslim women.

The biggest issue for the treatment of unwed Muslim mothers is the law. A Muslim man is not legally held accountable for fathering a child out of wedlock. The president of the Syariah Lawyers Association, Musa Awang was quoted saying in the NST that “under Syariah, a man is not compelled to provide maintenance for a child born out of wedlock, even if he was proven to be the biological father”. Furthermore, both mother and child face social stigma for the rest of their lives as the baby is not allowed to carry the name of its father and is instead named bin/binti Abdullah, a mark of illegitimacy.

Suri Kempe, programme manager of Sisters in Islam (SIS), sheds some light on the plight of a Muslim woman giving birth to a child born out of wedlock. “If she knows that she cannot rely on the father of her child to support her, nor can she compel him through the law, […] it is not hard to see how she might be driven to think of abandoning her baby as a possible solution”.

Kempe also cited “possible emotional and psychological trauma, depression and stress” as factors that might lead to such a decision. Despite adoption options available from charities such as OrphanCARE, the emotional turmoil of this situation and the rising numbers of baby dumping cases indicate that we should be considering how to prevent the unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

Sex Education

The question of how Malaysia can come up with an adequate sex education programme while tip-toeing around religious sensitivities remains largely unanswered. Although there are some modules being tested, the government has still not deemed it appropriate to include them in the national schooling curriculum.

Young people today have much easier access to information about sex and sexual images. This however does not come with the necessary guidance and knowledge to make informed decisions regarding their bodies. Watching pornography while ignorant of sexually transmitted diseases, the implications of premarital sex, what constitutes sexual harassment and statutory rape and how to say no to sexual advances is a highly precarious position for any adolescent.

 

Not wanting to incite unecessary furore, the programme was renamed Social and Reproductive Health Education

 

In 2010, some sex education programmes were tested in five schools in Selangor, Federal Territories, Penang, Kelantan and Terengganu. Not wanting to incite unnecessary furore, the programme was renamed Social and Reproductive Health Education instead. Response to these modules has apparently been encouraging from both parents and students but as yet, the government has only included the programme into its National Service curriculum. With most National Service trainees aged around 18, many would argue this is too little, too late.

Political activist Hishamuddin Rais recently published a blog post where he argued that the “moral” deterrent to having sex was not adequate in today’s society, calling for more openness about sexual matters. Similarly, Kempe of Sisters in Islam firmly believes that “the government must show that it has the political will to prioritise the health and well-being of our children”. Implementing a sex education programme is a matter of public health, says Kempe, and the government “should not buckle under pressure exerted by conservative factions within society that sex education means encouraging youths to have sex”.

Abortion Laws

Recent news regarding a pregnancy-related death of Savita Halappanavar in largely Catholic Ireland has brought to light the issue of abortion laws in religiously conservative countries.

Malaysia’s laws on abortion are among the strictest in the world. Laws in Ireland, like Malaysia, state that abortion is only allowed if the pregnancy poses physical or mental risk to the mother. Only one doctor’s decision is necessary to permit an abortion in Malaysia. But as the case in Ireland shows, there have been times where a doctor’s call might not have been the best one.

 

A survey found that 41% of women did not know the legal conditions for abortion

 

Many local organisations like WAO (Women’s Aid Organisation) and RRAAM (Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance of Malaysia) believe and are fighting for a woman’s right to measure her own circumstances and have her opinion matter when it comes to the decision of whether or not to keep a child.

Another issue is that many still believe that abortion is outright illegal in Malaysia. According to statistics provided by RRAAM, a survey of reproductive health clients conducted in 2008 found that 41% of the women did not know the legal conditions for abortion.  Even more troubling is that 57% of doctors and nurses failed to correctly know the law regarding abortion when a survey was conducted in 2007.

Contraceptives

While interviewing volunteers at OrphanCARE, one of them wonders aloud why condoms are not used more since they are so readily available. Many of us take for granted that as time progresses, so does knowledge of the usage of contraceptives. Research proves otherwise.

The 2004 MPFS (Malaysia Population and Family Survey) shows that young people aged 13 – 24 most commonly cited the pill as a family planning method, followed by condom usage. Confirming the suspicion of youths knowing less than we’d like to assume, only one in four had heard about condoms despite them being readily sold in many pharmacies.

 

The majority of girls coming to OrphanCARE to seek assistance are tertiary-level students

 

Although not all baby dumping cases stem from teen pregnancies, Kim relates that the majority of girls coming to OrphanCARE to seek assistance are tertiary-level students. Several organisations that are seeking to help curb teen pregnancies express the disappointment in the lack of research data published about the usage of contraceptives.

For the government to avoid confronting the fact that youths are becoming more sexually active is unwise. The responsible thing to do would be to include young, unmarried contraception users in national health surveys without having them worry about the repercussions of submitting their data to the relevant organisations.

The Prevention Hatch

More figures need to be made available for the prevention of baby dumping. More openness is needed when dealing with education of our youth when it comes to sexual matters. More awareness needed regarding our laws on abortion.

While it is reassuring to note that the children given up for adoption receive an almost overwhelming response of care from foster parents, the aim should still be to address the problem at its root.

Both Kim Rozali and Suri Kempe deal with of very different aspects of unwanted pregnancies but they have shared views on one thing – sex education. “Some girls don’t even know that they’re pregnant!” exclaims Kim in dejected disbelief, illustrating the ineffectiveness of the current sex education syllabus.

Kempe stresses that sex education should really be introduced in “all schools”, not just pilot projects but an integral part of the national curriculum. She has strong faith in the importance of empowering teens to “take care of themselves, respect their bodies, respect the bodies of others, and to protect themselves from sexual harassment and violations”.

Hopefully, real change will hatch once the foundations of awareness are well laid.

Photos by Stacy Liu. Cover image: Creative Commons.

CORRECTION: The original article stated that “Hatch babies are stateless babies and are automatically categorised as Muslim under Malaysian law.” According to the fatwa on abandoned babies adopted by Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (Department of Social Welfare), abandoned babies found in Malaysia are not stateless but “under the care of the state”. However, they are automatically categorised as Muslim. (13/12/12).

CORRECTION: The original article published referred to Kim Rozali as Rozali. This has been corrected. (13/12/12).

UPDATE: The original article published stated that “Hatch babies are stateless babies and are automatically categorised as Muslim under Malaysian law.” We have removed this line as we seek further clarification on this law. (11/12/12)

UPDATE: We have added a link to the Telegraph article “Ireland’s abortion laws: we need to get the facts straight” to clarify the case of Savita Halappanavar and Ireland’s abortion laws. (11/12/12)

More Information

Sisters in Islam – sistersinislam.org.my

Women’s Aid Organisation – www.wao.org.my

Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance of Malaysia – www.rraam.org

Department of Social Welfare – www.jkm.gov.my


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Critical appraisal regarding major objections to the establishment of baby hatches

The baby hatch violates a child’s right to know the identity of his or her biological parents by allowing anonymous birth

This objection holds that a child’s right to know their parents and origins is disregarded for children dropped off at a baby hatch. Article 7 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child declares that “the child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents” [13]. Discussions of the right of children born from artificial insemination by sperm donation to know their origins have articulated three disadvantages for a child who does not know his or her origins: [1] the lack of genetic information may infringe on the child’s right to health, [2] the inability to exclude the possibility of a consanguineous marriage when the child marries, and [3] the child will lack information on his or her biological parents and his or her own birth, which are crucial to the establishment of independence and identity [14]. These perspectives are all important and undoubtedly must be respected in principle to protect children who are placed in a vulnerable position.

Recently, some countries have started requiring a donor to allow disclosure of his identity if a child born by artificial insemination requests it [14]. In this case, those who do not desire disclosure of their identity are unlikely to become donors. Similarly, parents who wish to remain anonymous and women who wish to conceal their pregnancies may choose abortion, infanticide, or child abandonment if anonymous drop-offs are not allowed. Fixating exclusively on respecting the right of the child to know his or her parents without considering the circumstances will lead to violation of the right to life. If the child cannot survive, then the right to know his or her origins can neither be claimed nor protected. Discussions should thus consider the temporal order of realizing rights. Sakamoto argues that baby hatches give children the right to life, and for newborns, survival is more important than the right to know and be cared for by their parents [15].

Some claim that parents who insist on anonymity when leaving a child at a baby hatch are selfish and irresponsible. In many cases, however, these parents are women who are desperate and lonely with no one to talk to, and perhaps are only able to speak out in anonymity. It is also possible that these parents are isolated and without friends they can talk to intimately or adults they can trust, are unaware of organizations to consult because interpersonal relationships in their lives are limited, or they harbor distrust or hatred of such organizations even if they are aware of them [5]. Some of these parents may be unable to talk using their real names because they fear being discriminated against and criticized as “a selfish and irresponsible human being” [5]. It can be difficult for confused parents to casually approach our country’s social welfare system for consultation [6]. It may be said that it is hard to live as a single mother but easy for her to have an abortion in Japan [16]. Ultimately, they have no choice but to rely on baby hatches. Thus, baby hatches have the societal function of serving as a last resort.

Furthermore, we wonder whether a person may, on occasion, be unable to talk to anyone in truly tough times. Even if the person knows that the listener will be kind and welcoming with a receptive attitude, taking the bold step of consulting with someone is difficult. Consulting with someone is a major decision, and outwardly expressing one’s suffering to a stranger is no easy task. There are probably some women who, embracing their despair alone without being able to confess their troubles to anyone, at some point cross the line and tragically end their lives, together with their unborn or newborn child [6]. Baby hatches provide an alternative for these women.

Therefore, even anonymous use of baby hatches should be allowed. Not all parents should be forced to disclose their identity. In principle, the right of a child to know his or her origins should be higher in priority than the parent’s right to anonymity, based on the vulnerability of children and the importance of the outcome; however, in exceptional cases where the parent is mentally and economically desperate, and the conditions are such that abortion, infanticide, or child abandonment may occur unless privacy is protected, the parent’s right to anonymity should be upheld to protect both the child and parent.

The baby hatch neglects fulfillment of the biological parents’ basic obligation of to raise their child and the very availability of the baby hatch induces abandonment of infants

Some object to baby hatches on the grounds that society is approving irresponsible child abandonment on the part of biological parents; the existence of baby hatches will create a demand for child abandonment that did not previously exist and parents will make a hasty and mistaken decision to drop the child off at a baby hatch rather than a public institution [1-3,5,6,17]. In other words, if baby hatches do not exist, parents will try more desperately to raise the child, even in cases of poverty, and will seek assistance from a community facility suitable for dropping off the newborn child in situations where raising the child seems impossible. Taking the “Stork’s Cradle” of Kumamoto as an example, this objection claims that the 81 children placed in its care during a five-year period were “thrown away” precisely because the “Stork’s Cradle” exists.

The basis for this objection is the notion that parents have an unambiguous duty to raise their children, even under desperate circumstances. Furthermore, the perception that baby hatches undermine the heretofore cherished basic ethical values of traditional societies is probably inevitable [6]. To begin with, child rearing by parents or parent-like caregivers has been considered a self-evident fact in modern societies as well as a prerequisite for those societies [5]. Supposedly, baby hatches are inappropriate as social childcare organizations because of their anonymity as well as their short-sightedness and ease of use. From this perspective, if the parents cannot raise the child themselves for some pressing reason, then they should follow the procedures determined by the official child consultation center of the community, and continuously consult with as well as receive assistance from the center.

In fact, when Jikei Hospital began the “Stork’s Cradle” in 2007, the Japanese prime minister expressed strong concerns: “If you bear a child, it is crucial that you take responsibility as a parent; there are facilities to deal with such children, and I feel very uncomfortable about making a facility that allows you to leave a child anonymously”; “I feel it is unacceptable for a father and mother to abandon a child anonymously”; “(The Cradle) ought not to exist” [6]. In addition, there are concerns that abandoning the child at a baby hatch does not truly solve the problem that led to such circumstances, and that the woman may repeat the same behavior in the future.

Of course, prevention is important; at Jikei Hospital, they perform counseling services for pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing that are achieving results. In Germany, repeated consultations lead to parents deciding not to use a babyklappe in most cases, and even if they do use it, approximately half of them reclaim their children within eight weeks [1,6,18]. Stating that drop-offs at baby hatches should be prevented and that social childcare mechanisms should be appropriately used is only natural. However, the above objections can be refuted.

First, with regard to individual parents neglecting their child raising obligations, society as a whole has a responsibility to protect and raise children. It is irresponsible to criticize only the parents who drop off a child; only by working together can we prevent such parents from abandoning their children [19]. This is “our” problem, the collective responsibility of we who have made society the way it is. Rather than ascribing pregnancy and childbirth to the individual responsibility of women, we should work on solving the problem with the attitude that the entire society will support them by enhancement of counseling frameworks for pregnancy and childbirth, livelihood support for single mothers [18].

Second, regarding the argument that baby hatches encourage child abandonment, we question whether child abandonment is so easily triggered. Might such thinking be based on a prejudiced view—that parents who would go through a pregnancy and childbirth requiring concealment from others are good-for-nothings and lack proper human nature, and therefore easily dispose of their own child? Yet, no parent gladly disposes of their own child. Parents who have left their babies unattended in a dangerous place to die have simply become isolated from their families and society, incapable of obtaining adequate information to make appropriate judgments, and mentally trapped [19]. Furthermore, the individual responsibility of women regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and contraception is still emphasized, and governments thus far have not devised adequate measures for the socially vulnerable. There are, in fact, women in poverty who are unaware of government support systems [18].

Third, dropping a child off at a baby hatch is not simply child neglect. The parents drop off their child at a safe place hoping that he or she survives; hence, he or she is not a so-called deserted child. We may thus assert that the act clearly differs from a dangerous one such as leaving a child unattended on the street. Jikei Hospital President Taiji Hasuda, who established the “Stork’s Cradle” in Kumamoto, writes on the hospital website that “deserting a child may cause it to lose its life. But in the act of dropping off one’s child at a safe place, is there not the mother’s fervent desire to save her own child?” [20] A German doctor points out that most of the children dropped at Babyklappes are relatively healthy and the purpose of dropping off a child is to protect its life and that mothers who drop off their children are definitely not bad mothers [6].

Fourth, as mentioned previously, parents in a difficult situation may feel institutional or psychological resistance in approaching public child welfare organizations. Fifth, it is pointed out that the social childcare center is pressed by rapidly increasing consultations concerning child abuse and understaffing is the severe state, and among those who had actually consulted with it, there existed some parents who let their child die by abuse or finally chose to drop a baby off at a baby hatch. As a matter of facts, despite the involvement of the social childcare center in 45 cases, seven children died in 2010 [1,6,21].

Finally, we argue that education to publicize social childcare systems and prevent unwanted pregnancies is difficult. Although education is important, the information is not always conveyed effectively to those who need it. Even if publicized on a website, there will always be a certain proportion of people who do not or cannot access the information. No matter how much we teach appropriate coping methods, some people will not use them. There are limits to educational and awareness-raising activities.

Some people abuse the baby hatch, using it for selfish reasons

According to a 2012 report, the primary reasons for dropping off a child at the Cradle were poverty, objections of parents (that is, of grandparents), unmarried, and a parent’s mental disorder, among others. These are arguably unavoidable and acceptable reasons [1]. We may speculate that there were many pressing situations in which parents thought, “if we don’t drop off the child now, both mother and child will be unable to live properly, and it will be a life-and-death matter for the baby,” and after an agonizing decision, left the newborn child in a baby hatch as a last resort.

Meanwhile, in the Kumamoto prefecture 2009 report, doubts such as “one can glimpse a distorted sense of belonging” were cast upon reasons such as “the family register will be stained” [6]. The 2012 report also states that there were multiple cases in which there was no absolute need to leave the child at the Cradle, such as cases in which a child was dropped off because the parents could not quickly find a childcare facility so they could work, or would not be able to raise the child because they were going to study overseas [1]. The acceptability of a reason cannot be judged so simply without considering the details of each individual case. Yet, compared to the first group of reasons, the latter group appears to be less acceptable; parents could not complain if they were declared to be prioritizing only their own happiness. In addition, there was an extremely unfortunate case of a child being used for a financially-motivated crime in which an underage guardian dropped a child off at the Cradle, embezzled property that the child had inherited, and was subsequently arrested [1,22]. In some cases, infants (13.6%) and toddlers (7.4%) are dropped off instead of newborns [1]. The first child dropped off at Jikei Hospital’s “Stork’s Cradle” was a three-year-old toddler [23].

Obviously, abuse must be prevented. The purpose of the baby hatch is to accommodate newborn infants as a last resort, so it should be clearly stated as such and be thoroughly publicized to prevent improper use. In the case of Jikei Hospital, they have been operating the “SOS baby and mother telephone counseling office” on a 24-h basis from December 2006, before operation of the Cradle began, so that babies are not casually dropped off. In practice, they have been able to significantly prevent improper use [1,6]. Here, we can again refute the position that establishment of baby hatches is bad because of abuse.

First, we need to determine whether baby hatches are inappropriate just because some people abuse them. Whatever the system, unfortunately, there are always some people that will abuse it. Even if baby hatches have been used for simplistic reasons, if this only applies to some people and most parents had pressing reasons, then would not the system be acceptable? Criticism should be directed at the abusers, rather than casting doubt upon the entire baby hatch system just because some use them for selfish reasons.

Second, are we capable of readily determining the simplicity behind the reason for another’s behavior? Indeed, from a third-person perspective, we think “how could they drop off a child for such a reason!” However, even if an act is foolish when examined calmly, the person concerned may have been in an extremely serious and desperate psychological state at that point in time [24]. When considering someone else’s problems, we can all easily become great philosophers and judges. Although an objective judgment from a third-person perspective is important, the subjective psychology and feelings of the concerned parties are also important.

Third, Atsushi Yamada responds to the criticism “perhaps they will drop children off casually,” as follows: “Even so, what matters is that lives are saved. Although the ‘simplicity’ of those that drop off a child and the ‘deterioration of ethical values’ are pointed out, we should attend more to the reality of a society in which child-rearing is difficult. Women are always the ones that struggle. That men are not held responsible is also a problem. Each individual citizen must become aware of the reality that many babies are dying” [6].

Baby hatches cannot save babies’ lives

In Germany, the incidence of neonatal death and abandonment has not decreased since introduction of the babyklappe [25]. While the babyklappe may help troubled women, some people believe they do not help the children [15]. However, survey results from one region of one country for a defined time period can hardly be called reliable evidence. We could also claim that the baby hatch counteracted what would otherwise have been an increase in child abandonment [24]. In addition, there are the data which indicate that the number of abuse death of children has slightly been increasing in Japan, and it is suggested unwanted pregnancy could lead to it. In 2010, there were 51 cases of abuse death and most of sacrificed children were under 1 years old [1,6]. The increase of the abuse death lets us concern about the increase of the future abandoned child, and it may be said that the necessity of baby hatch rises more.

While some claim that the system saves a significant number of newborn lives as a fact, others argue that demand has been created out of nothing [5,17]. What would have happened to the 81 children that were dropped off during a five-year period at the baby hatch of Jikei Hospital? Although we can speculate, the truth is unknowable: the claim that they would have been abandoned on the streets or killed is as valid as the claim that they would have been raised safely by their parents. Unless collaborative long-term social experiments are carried out in many regions of multiple countries to produce solid data, we will only see a clash of beliefs and assertions devoid of evidence.

The rights of one parent can be ignored if the other surrenders a child without his or her consent

There is concern that baby hatches may be used by unscrupulous fathers, step-fathers, relatives, or even controllers of prostitutes to pressure mothers to dispose of an unwanted baby. Therefore, the big question is if baby hatches are upholding women's rights and if the mother consents to her baby being placed there [3]. Needless to say, there is no excusing a male partner or other family member who, ignoring the mother’s intentions, deserts the child of a mother who wishes to raise it; this is a cruel and criminal act that must never occur. However, such situations will arise regardless of whether or not baby hatches exist. They do not occur because baby hatches exist. If there are no baby hatches, the likelihood that these children will be left on the street unattended or killed will increase. A clear distinction should be made between outcomes that occur only because baby hatches exist and those that occur regardless of their existence.

The baby hatch puts a baby in medical jeopardy

Childbirth must take place under medical supervision [1]. However, giving birth at home alone is likely to occur regardless of whether or not baby hatches exist. Another argument is that the safety of the child is not guaranteed when it arrives from far away immediately after birth; however, this objection supports the establishment of baby hatches in various places. In response to the suggestion that safety of the child prior to drop-off is not secured (e.g., plane travel immediately after birth), Hospital President Taiji Hasuda stated, “There is a limit to accommodating children at Jikei Hospital alone. I would like similar facilities to be built at several places around the country” [26]. Those who assert that baby hatches should be abolished based on a problem that will potentially be resolved by expanding access to baby hatches are those who are likely to reject baby hatches out of hand. The establishment of baby hatches or other anonymous delivery systems is likely to reduce dangerous childbirths.

It was reported that there were 99 urgent consultation and management performed by the Jikei Hospital about pregnancy and delivery and about half came from the residents in Kumamoto prefecture in the first three years after the establishment of the “Stork’s Cradle.” But the actual use of the “Cradle” by the consultation clients who lived in Kumamoto has not been confirmed [6]. This result suggests that local direct and upmost measures involving a family as well as parents are effective for the parents to find alternatives other than the use of the baby hatch. Therefore, it is necessary to establish more local institutions such as the “Stork’s Cradle” which offers a baby hatch as well as preventive consultation and support system nationwide.

The baby hatch has no clear legal basis

Finally, there is opposition to baby hatches because they are in a legal gray area. In Australia, a woman’s right to anonymous delivery does not exist, and the right to know one’s parents is considered a basic children’s right. However, anonymous delivery and the use of baby hatches is recognized as legal if a condition of poverty that exposes the lives, as well as the mental and physical health, of the woman and child to unavoidable danger is confirmed [18]. The legal position of babyklappes remains unclear in Germany [9]. In Japan, in February 2007, the state indicated its position is that baby hatches “are not outright illegal.” As a result, on April 5 of the same year, Kumamoto City determined that “there are no reasonable grounds for not allowing modifications in the medical law,” and approved changes that allowed establishment of the “Storks’ Cradle” [1].

Numerous rebuttals can be made in response to the objection that the legality of baby hatches is unclear. Ambiguous legality and illegality differ. That which is ethically correct can exist, even if it is illegal. Laws are not for approving every action in daily life, but to prohibit actions that must not be performed in order to maintain social order by punishing violators. That which is legal in one country may be illegal in another, or that which is legal in one era may be illegal in another. Therefore, the ethical propriety of a matter cannot be determined solely on the basis of legal judgments, or whether or not there are laws in place.

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