Baby hatches where desperate mums can leave their newborns may be installed at public hospitals in New South Wales under a recommendation from the State Coroner to introduce “safe haven” laws.
The safe drop boxes – already in use in Germany, Canada and the Czech Republic – allow parents to safely leave their babies in the care of hospital staff. Parents who can no longer care for their child can place the baby into a hatch that activates an alarm and alerts staff that a baby is there.
The recommendations to the Baird government came at the inquest this week into the death of baby Lily Grace, who was found in a shallow grave at South Maroubra beach in November 2014. The whereabouts of Lily’s mother is unknown.
Coroner Hugh Dillon says though Lily’s death was “mysterious” and “distressing” it is important parents can hand over babies without “humiliation or prosecution.”
Mr Dillon was unable to find out how the baby died, or her true identity, but says the purpose of the inquest was not to shame anyone, especially Lily’s mother.
“Although we do not know who she is, it takes little imagination to understand that to lose a baby and to seek to hide that baby’s death in this way suggests that the mother was desperate,” ABC News reports. “The fact that she has not come forward suggests that she is ashamed, vulnerable and scared.”
The body of Lily Grace was discovered the same week as baby boy was found alive in a drain in Sydney’s west.
Safe haven laws will decriminalise the act of safely abandoning an unharmed newborn baby. It is estimated up to six babies die after being abandoned in Australia each year.
The NSW Government will respond to the safe haven recommendations in due course.
(via ABC News)