Baby hatches that save lives

Imagine pressing a button to alert staff that you have just dropped your newborn child into a “baby hatch”, and then walking away – for good.  As the mother of a five-month-old, it’s almost unfathomable.  But then I’m living in Australia, not China.

And while a drop-off centre for babies sounds disturbing, if it reduces the number of babies dumped or killed, then surely it’s a good thing.

China is planning to roll out a national scheme of “baby hatches”.  Babies can be placed in a crib at a designated centre and parents press a button to alert the home’s staff the infant is there, before leaving anonymously.

The child will be collected within 10 minutes and placed into state care.  It seems the system is working.  According to a report in “The Australian”, the latest “baby hatch” project in Guangzhou, in China’s south, received 81 babies in the first two weeks of opening.  That’s almost six babies abandoned every day!

A total of 25 hatches have opened across China, which has one of the highest rates of baby dumping and infant mortality in the world due to its one-child policy.  The report quoted a social welfare officer as saying, “We cannot change the abandonment of the babies, but we can change the results after they are dumped”.

It is great that China’s baby hatches are saving the lives of precious children.  But China can change the abandonment of babies, by easing its one-child policy, which it is also starting to do, as it deals with a huge shortage of young people and a rapidly ageing population.  Encouraging signs all round.