National

Hospital equipped with baby hatch in Kumamoto to introduce confidential birth program

JIJI, Kyodo

Jikei Hospital in the city of Kumamoto, known for its “Konotori no Yurikago” (storks’ cradle) baby hatch, will start a program allowing women to give birth while keeping their names secret, a senior official has said.

The hospital decided on the move after making little progress in talks with the city government on assistance for isolated pregnant women, said Dr. Takeshi Hasuda, deputy head of the hospital.

It will be the only hospital in Japan to offer such a program, according to the institution.

Hasuda called for understanding of the program, stressing the need to protect mothers who would otherwise give birth alone as well as their babies.

Those hoping to use the confidential birth program would disclose their identities only to the head of the hospital’s consultation office for mothers with newborns.

The documents where names are recorded would be sealed and kept elsewhere. In the hospital, those using the service would be allowed to get checkups and give birth under assumed names. The hospital would pay related costs for those with financial difficulties.

Seals on the records would not be broken until the children born through the program reach a certain age. Their rights to know their family backgrounds would be protected because they would be allowed to see the names of their mothers if they want, according to Hasuda.

Children born under the program would be entrusted to public child consultation centers, as are children left in the baby hatch, he said.

The hospital also plans to allow women to give birth in total anonymity, he added.

In December 2017, the hospital announced a plan to introduce a program similar to Germany’s confidential birth system.

The hospital presented a draft plan for the program to the Kumamoto Municipal Government. The municipality has asked the central government to consider what should be done, saying the issue cannot be resolved between the local government and the private hospital.

Jikei Hospital first drew nationwide attention in 2007 when Hasuda set up the baby hatch. It is located in a separate red brick building at the hospital. When someone places a baby in the incubator, an alarm alerts staff at the nurses station on the second floor.

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