‘Baby hatches’ might lead to more abandoned infants, experts fear

Stephen Gadd
September 13th, 2018

This article is more than 5 years old.

There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that baby hatches reduce the number of unwanted babies left abandoned by desperate mothers

A baby hatch in Sandomierz, Poland (photo: Skelanard)

Figures from VIVE, the Danish centre for social science research, reveal that over the last 20 years there has been an average of one baby per year found abandoned out in the open by its parents.

Despite this, a number of politicians have suggested setting up ‘baby hatches’ – as can be found in a number of other European countries – where babies can be left anonymously and in safety.

READ ALSO: Political majority want to set up haven for unwanted babies

Hatches may make matters worse
However, a new report from VIVE reveals that baby hatches may not in fact reduce the number of abandoned infants.

“In Germany, where they have had baby hatches since 2000, a fall in the number of abandoned babies found dead outdoors has not been registered,” said Marie Jakobsen, the chief analyst at VIVE.

At the same time, experience from abroad has shown that the offer of anonymity afforded by baby hatches can actually lead to more abandoned children because more people take up the offer.

Prevention better than cure
Last year, a majority in Parliament consisting of Socialdemokratiet and Dansk Folkeparti wanted to go ahead and establish state-run baby hatches in Denmark. However, at the last minute, Dansk Folkeparti got cold feet, so the initiative has not come to anything yet.

The minister of health, Ellen Thrane-Nørby, does not support the idea. She would rather see more preventive initiatives set up so that mothers don’t abandon their babies at all.

“We need to try and see whether we can reach out to those women, who often conceal their pregnancy,” said Thrane-Nørby.

“If we can beef up some of the initiatives that are already in place, then we might be able to avoid women feeling that they are in such desperate straits that they have to abandon their child.”


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