Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Switzerland gets new 'baby hatch'

Switzerland this week installed its eighth 'baby hatch' - a hole in the wall where mothers are able to anonymously drop off unwanted newborn babies. The latest hatch is located at a hospital in the city of Sion, joining those in Bern, Davos, Olten, Basel, Einsiedeln and Bellinzona.

When an infant is placed into a hatch, the pressure of its body weight activates a heating pad. After three minutes (giving the person time to leave unobserved) an alarm alerts a member of staff who will take care of the child check its health. The baby will then be placed in foster care within a few days.

The mother has 12 months to reclaim the baby if she changes her mind, after which it will be put up for adoption.

The organisation Swiss Aid for Mother and Child (SAMC), a key driver behind the country's baby hatches, says a total of 16 children have been left at the Swiss facilities since the first was opened in Einsiede in 2001.

There are approximately 200 baby hatches across Europe in countries including Austria, Germany, Belgium and Italy. According to UN figures, more than 400 children have been given up in this way since the year 2000.

I can't begin to comprehend the awful circumstances that force a mother to give up her baby but this is amazing – at least she knows that her baby will be looked after and cared for and have the opportunity of a good life. I can imagine these facilities are quite controversial – I know a similar one was rejected in Amsterdam because of protests but it gets a huge thumbs up from me. Well done Switzerland.

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