Berlin. In Brandenburg, a young woman abandoned her baby on February 8, then pretended to the police that she had found a strange child and thereby tried to cover up her motherhood. Such cases occur again and again in Germany – but pregnant women who do not want to identify themselves as the mother of their child have long had other options. As a survey by the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) showed, the legally compliant “confidential birth” is used significantly more often than the controversial baby flaps – which, however, are still used in every federal state.
In 2000 the first modern baby hatch was installed in Hamburg. To this day, the flaps are controversial and not covered by any law, i.e. in fact illegal – but are tolerated. The y are not subject to controls. Since 2014 there has therefore been a legal and legally anchored alternative in the form of “confidential birth” in which the mother’s identity is concealed for at least 16 years.
The survey shows: Confidential birth is accepted in all federal states, but baby flaps still exist.
212 children in six federal states in baby hatches
The survey shows that there is at least one baby hatch in every federal state, a total of around 86 nationwide. In North Rhine-Westphalia there are the most valves with 24 pieces, in Bremen, Saarland and Brandenburg there is only one possibility to hand in a child anonymously – and in Brandenburg the facility is currently closed.
Since there is no compulsory registration for baby hatches, neither nationwide nor nationwide data on this form of child handover is recorded. Nevertheless, some federal states were able to provide figures. In Baden-Württemberg from 2001 to 2017 a total of 90 babies were given in the eight valves, in Rhineland-Palatinate a total of 46 from 2000 to 2018. In Bremen there is only one basket in which 24 babies have been found in the last ten years. just as many were counted in Saxony-Anhalt, in Hamburg there were 21 babies in the same period. In Saarland, only seven mothers gave up their child in the last ten years. A total of 212 babies were found in valves in six federal states alone within 19 years.
In contrast to the child handover in baby hatches, confidential births are reported to the Federal Office for Family and Civil Society Tasks (BAFzA). Accordingly, there have been 827 confidential births nationwide since its introduction in 2014. According to the BAFzA, the numbers are rising steadily.
The re were 77 cases in Bavaria from 2014 to 2019. This is followed by the state of Hesse, in which, according to the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs, an average of ten of these births take place per year. In Schleswig-Holstein the opportunity was used by 38 women. Saarland is at the bottom of the list: only six confidential births have been carried out there since its introduction.
Confidential birth as a legal alternative
Since baby flaps have no legal basis, they are controversial in Germany. By submitting them anonymously, the mothers violate the child’s right to knowledge of their parentage, which is anchored in the Basic Law. In addition, unsupervised birth can put mothers at risk.
Critics also deny that baby flaps can prevent infanticide. According to “terre des hommes”, the motivations of women who kill their children are completely contrary to those who put their child in a baby hatch. If women or men kill their children, it is an act of pure desperation. Whoever puts the child in a baby hatch wants them to survive.
For the German Ethics Council, these arguments already predominated in 2009, at that time it called for the abolition of baby flaps and advised a “law on confidential child surrender with temporarily anonymous reports”.
In 2014, the Bundestag followed the suggestion and created the possibility of confidential birth – not as a replacement, but as a legal alternative to the baby hatch.
The child can only apply for proof of origin 16 years after the birth. If the mother then wants to remain anonymous, she can turn to a court. In certain cases, anonymity is preserved.
Right to ancestry no more important than the right to life
The baby flaps continue to exist in addition to the possibility of confidential birth. Heidi Kaiser, co-founder of Germany’s first baby hatch, emphasized to the RND how important the right to know one’s origin is. But she also made it clear that this right could only apply if the right to life was fulfilled. That is why the warming flap in Hamburg will continue to be kept ready for the babies, “whose lives are otherwise in danger”.
The re are still women who do not know the confidential birth or who still decide in favor of a baby hatch after detailed advice at a pregnancy counseling center. To protect their child, the range of baby hatches is therefore still important for desperate women. ”
The federal government is currently not planning any legal regulations for this form of anonymous child surrender.
Overview of baby hatches and the number of confidential births in the federal states
The Ministry of Social Affairs did not have any more recent data. From 2014 to 2019 inclusive, there were 47 confidential births in the state.
The Bavarian Ministry of Social Affairs was unable to indicate how many newborns have already been handed over there. Between 2014 and 2019 there were 77 confidential births in Bavaria.
The Senate for Health did not respond to the RND’s request.
The Ministry of Social Affairs did not respond to the RND’s request.
The Senate for Health was unable to provide a total number.
In Hamburg there are four baby flaps in which a total of 21 children have been placed since 2010. A baby was delivered there in 2020. From the introduction of confidential birth to September 2020, 18 mothers used the confidential birth route.
The number of cases can be inferred from the applications that must be made after a confidential birth. On average, there are ten cases per year.
The re is no data on how often these are used. Since 2014 there should have been around 14 confidential births in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
The ministry was unable to provide any figures on how these are claimed. Likewise, the country did not have any confidential birth figures.
The Ministry of Social Affairs was unable to provide any information on how many children have already been given up there. From 2015 to 2019 there were 146 confidential births in the state.
The re were two confidential births in 2014, and nine in 2019. A total of 33 children were born this way during that period.
The re have been six confidential births in Saarland since 2014.
In Saxony there are five baby hatches, but the Ministry of Social Affairs has no data on how many children have already been handed in there. Since the law regulating confidential births came into force, 41 confidential births have taken place in the state.
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, there are three baby hatches in Saxony-Anhalt. From 2010 to 2019, 24 children were handed in there. In 2020, six confidential births were announced, with three children being placed for adoption and two children going back to their birth parents. From 2014 to 2020, the confidential birth offer was used 20 times.
The Ministry of Social Affairs has no knowledge of the operation and use of baby flaps in Schleswig-Holstein. From 2014 to 2020 there were 38 confidential births in the state, but confidentiality was lifted again for two births.
The Ministry of Social Affairs was only able to provide information on confidential births for the years 2014 to 2017. Five children were born this way during that period.