Japan's baby hatch operator calls for allowing anonymous childbirth

The operator of Japan's only baby hatch said Saturday the country should allow women in cases of unwanted pregnancy to give birth anonymously at hospitals, while ensuring the children's right to know their mother's identity after they grow up. Jikei Hospital in the city of Kumamoto, southwestern Japan, said many of the women who have anonymously turned over their newborns to the hospital had given birth in precarious circumstances, such as inside cars, while being unable to tell anyone about their pregnancies. "Allowing anonymous childbirths (in hospitals) will be effective in protecting the lives of both mothers and babies," Takeshi Hasuda, deputy head of the hospital, said during a press conference. Under the proposal, mothers who wish to give birth anonymously in hospital would leave their identities in sealed documents at an administrative institution. The hospital would help with the children's upbringing through adoption and other means, while the children would have the right to know their mothers' identities after reaching a certain age. Hasuda said the hospital hopes to "discuss (the proposed system) with government officials and experts as we cannot go ahead on our own." Modeled on Germany's Baby Box, the hospital set up a baby hatch, called "konotori no yurikago" (the cradle of the stork), in 2007 to prevent women in cases of unwanted pregnancy from killing babies or abandoning them in unsafe conditions. Germany has a law allowing anonymous childbirths in hospitals, while granting the children born the right to know their mothers' identity.

Dec 16, 2017 | KYODO NEWS