Switzerland got its eighth ‘baby hatch’ this week – a hole in the wall where mothers are able to anonymously drop off unwanted newborn babies.
The latest hatch, located at a hospital in the city of Sion, joins others in Bern, Davos, Olten, Basel, Einsiedeln and Bellinzona.
After an infant is placed into one of the units, the pressure of its body weight activates a heating pad. After three minutes (giving the person who left the baby time to leave unobserved), an alarm alerts a member of staff, who checks the state of the child’s health. All being well, the baby will be placed in foster care within a few days.
The mother has 12 months to reclaim the baby if she changes her mind, after which it will be put up for adoption.•
Switzerland’s first baby hatch was opened in Einsiede in 2001. The organisation Swiss Aid for Mother and Child (SAMC), a key driver behind the country’s uptake of baby hatches, says 16 children have been left at the facilities over the past 15 years.
There are approximately 200 baby hatches across Europe, says QZ, in countries including Austria, Germany, Belgium and Italy. Plans for one to be installed in Amsterdam were abandoned in 2003 following a wave of protests.