Japan’s only ‘baby hatch’ offers mums a safe and anonymous place to give up newborns

For 15 years, a hospital in southern Japan has been the only place in the country where a child can be anonymously and safely abandoned.

Jikei hospital in the Kumamoto region also offers a 24-hour pregnancy support hotline and Japan’s only “confidential birth” programme. Expectant mums are offered health checks and other support, and they are encouraged to provide confidential information that could help a child learn about their origins later in life. The Catholic-run hospital opened its baby hatch in 2007, modelled on a German scheme. Such facilities have been banned in some countries including Britain. The United Nations has criticised baby hatches for violating a child’s right to eventually discover who their parents are.

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