Baby box gets no takers

The only babies placed in Einsiedeln's baby box have been for the cameras Keystone

A "baby box" set up a year ago for mothers who wish to abandon their children anonymously has still not been used.

This content was published on May 12, 2002 - 10:53

The Swiss pro-life association, For the Mother and Child (FMC), installed the box on Mother's Day last year to help desperate women and to avoid abortions.

Despite its apparent lack of success, the regional hospital has no intention of doing away with the box, located at Einsiedeln hospital in canton Schwyz.

According to Alois Gmür, president of the hospital foundation, the FMC has signed a five-year contract to keep the box in service. "It is a better solution than just abandoning an infant anywhere," said Gmür.

Responsibility for running the box has been handed to a new foundation, which was created by the FMC last autumn. It plans to set up another four boxes around the country.

Legal hurdles

There may be some legal hurdles along the way. The Swiss justice ministry published a report last August saying the foundation had been supplying false information about the legal status of the mothers involved.

Abandoning a child anonymously is considered illegal, and giving up an infant for adoption is a preferable option, according to the ministry.

The FMC admits that using the window may be contrary to certain legal requirements, but it doesn't believe this to be a real problem. The association also has doubts as to whether the courts would step in and prosecute a mother who used the box.

The box itself is on an outside wall of the hospital. An alarm connected to the installation is supposed to ring a few minutes after a child is deposited so that staff can recover the infant.

The mother has six weeks to claim the baby if she changes her mind.

Baby boxes already exist in a number of other countries, including Germany, the United States and South Africa.

The FMC is totally opposed to any form of abortion, and is behind a popular initiative proposing a complete ban that will be put to Swiss voters on June 2.

swissinfo with agencies

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