Forum: Take steps to pre-empt babies being abandoned

The recent case about the baby found in a rubbish chute bin brings into focus the problem of abandoned babies in Singapore (Newborn boy in stable condition in hospital, Jan 22).

This is a problem which the Government and society, especially religious organisations, have a responsibility to resolve now and for the long-term interest of society. In 2018, the total fertility rate in Singapore was 1.14, way below the replacement level of 2.1.

Under British law, it is illegal to abandon a child. Ms Alley Lofthouse from Yorkshire, who was abandoned at birth in the 1960s, is campaigning for a change to the law, saying that it would allow mothers to access healthcare without any consequences.

She is also calling for hospitals to have baby hatches for mothers to deposit their child anonymously and safely. The hatches commonly consist of a door or flap on an outside wall which opens onto a bed that is heated or insulated. Some have sensors that set off an alarm so that someone is alerted and can attend to the baby.

Baby hatches are used in many European countries. Abandoning a baby is illegal, but some countries have introduced safe haven laws to protect mothers who use a baby hatch.

There have been stories of babies abandoned in storm drains, beaches and even in a garbage tip.

Ms Catherine Lucre, a Sydney grandmother, started her own safe haven project.

It started with her putting a baby bassinet at her own front doorstep; this later became a nationwide movement offering support to mothers in distress and others in the community.

With the nation's falling birth rate, it is vital that every abandoned baby is saved and given up for adoption to childless couples who long to have a baby.

Heng Cho Choon

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