In Shenzhen, China infant abandonment is all too common. Babies are often left in public restrooms, or on the street, by their desperate, usually unmarried mothers, and are usually found much too late to save their lives. Starting next year, however, there will be another option for these moms. The city of Shenzhen will soon open a “baby hatch” where mothers can leave their infants without fear of facing charges or needing to reveal their identity. Personally, I think this is a much better solution than leaving them on the street, but apparently some people disagree.
The announcement of the baby hatch opening has caused quite a controversy in the area. Detractors say they worry that the ease of these hatches might raise the number of babies that are abandoned. Still, I think that’s a better outcome than finding dead newborns all over the city.
In a survey done by the official news portal for Shenzhen, sznews.com, 35 percent of the over 1300 people spoken to worries that the center would cause more abandonments, while a solid 17 percent were against it all together. Because what’s a few dead babies, amirite? /sarcasm
The baby hatch and center will have an incubator, ventilator, life support equipment and cribs, and will be located near the Shenzhen Welfare Center, which cares for abandoned infants that are found alive. The center will not have surveillance cameras to ensure parent privacy, according to Tang Rongsheng, the Welfare Center director. Parents will be able to press an alarm that will give them a few moments to leave before someone comes for the child, allowing them to stay anonymous.
Journalist David Xiao pretty much sums up my opinion on the matter:
“Babies will continue to be abandoned whether there’s a safe place for it or not,” he said. “The program means all unwanted children and their mothers can be given a second chance at life.’ I can’t forget these babies. They all looked like little kittens and were dumped like a piece of rubbish, Their mothers were migrant workers with poor education and salary. Most of them were only girls. They just delivered their child in a public toilet or on the stairs and left, or even strangled the baby right there.”
As chilling as Xiao’s description is, I think he’s absolutely right. Much like the debate on abortion, child abandonments will happen, whether we like it or not. Providing an out for these mothers will ensure that fewer babies are killed after birth, and few moms feel the need to leave their children on the street. I think this is definitely a step in the right direction for Shenzhen.