KUMAMOTO – The operator of Japan’s only “baby hatch” said Saturday that the nation should allow women to give birth anonymously at hospitals in cases of unwanted pregnancy, while ensuring the children’s right to learn their mother’s identity after they grow up.
Jikei Hospital in the city of Kumamoto said many of the women who have anonymously turned over their newborns had given birth in precarious circumstances, such as inside cars, while feeling unable to tell anyone about their pregnancies.
“Allowing anonymous childbirth in hospitals will be effective in protecting the lives of both mothers and babies,” said Takeshi Hasuda, deputy head of the hospital.
Under the proposal, mothers who wish to give birth anonymously at hospitals 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 proposal “with government officials and experts as we cannot go ahead on our own.”
He also said he believes the system is “feasible under current laws,” expressing eagerness to introduce it at his hospital at an early date.
Modeled on Germany’s Baby Box, the hospital set up its baby hatch , or kōnotori no yurikago (cradle of the stork), in 2007 to prevent women in cases of unwanted pregnancy from killing babies or abandoning them in unsafe conditions.
Of the 130 babies accepted through the hatch, at least 62 were born without medical assistance. In at least 26 cases the mothers’ identities were not known.
Germany has a law allowing anonymous childbirths at hospitals, while granting the children born the right to know their mothers’ identity when they turn 16.