The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is proposing a ban on incubators, often called baby boxes, where women who recently gave birth are legally allowed to leave their newborns.
The “baby boxes” are found in some hospitals and can be opened from the outside.
German pastor Gabriele Stangl came up with idea for the incubators in 1999, after a woman in Berlin confessed that she had murdered her unwanted newborn that had been conceived through rape.
The following year, Stangl convinced Waldfriede Hospital in Berlin to create the first baby box.
Stangl thought the “baby box” would help other desperate women in similar situations.
“The mother has enough time to leave without anyone seeing her,” Stangl said. “The important thing is that her baby is now in a safe place.”
There are now almost 100 baby boxes in Germany, and more than 40 in Poland and the Czech Republic.
There are also incubators in Lithuania, Russia, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland. Hundreds of babies have been abandoned in these boxes in the past decade.
Once a baby is put in the box, the door closes, and a nurse is immediately alerted by a signal.
The UN committee claims that baby boxes violate children’s rights to identify their parents. The UN has no actual authority to implement a baby box ban, however.
Maria Herczog, a sociologist and member of the UN committee, said, “Baby boxes do not operate in the best interest of the child or the mother … They are a bad message for society.”
The secret nature of the boxes also means few restrictions on who gets dropped off, even though they are intended for newborns.
Advocates of the incubators say the practice prevents unwanted children and infanticide. There is considerable support for the boxes across Germany, and two dozen Czech politicians have said they “strongly disagreed” with the proposed ban.
“The primary aim of baby hatches, which (have) already saved hundreds of newborns, is to protect their right to life and protect their human rights,” the politicians said in a letter responding to the UN’s concerns.
Do you think baby boxes should be banned?