A Chinese "baby hatch" in Guangzhou City has suspended work after parents overwhelmed the welfare center by abandoning more than 260 children suffering from various kinds of illnesses.
Xinhua news agency reported that the baby hatch, which is where parents can leave their children instead of abandoning them on the streets, was forced to suspend its services on Sunday after its resources were spread too thin by the 262 babies it received since it began operations in January.
"The number of babies we have received is much higher than in other parts of the country over the same period," said Guangzhou City Welfare Center Director Xu Jiu, who noted that there has been a shortage of rooms, quarantine facilities and other things necessary to care for the babies.
Xinhua reports that all babies were found to be suffering from disabilities and illnesses, including 110 cases of cerebral palsy, 39 cases of Down's syndrome, and 32 cases of congenital heart disease.
Baby hatches allow parents to anonymously leave their infant in an incubator, which has a baby bed and air conditioner, and press the alarm button, after which welfare staff retrieve the baby five to 10 minutes later.
China has so far opened up 25 baby hatches in 10 provincial regions, with the first one set up in June 2011 in Shijiazhuang.
While critics say that the baby hatches encourage parents to abandon their children, supporters say that they save lives.
"Under China's One Child Policy, such babies are often abandoned. When a couple is limited to only one child, they want to make sure that child is healthy," Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, who campaigns against China's one-child policy rule, shared in an email with The Christian Post on Monday.
"So I believe that providing baby hatches for seriously ill babies is saving lives. At the same time, the real culprit is the coercive low birth limit. People would be more likely to keep their ill babies, as opposed to abandoning them, if they did not have a coercive limit on the number of children they can have."
Chinese officials said in 2013 that the world's most populous nation is changing its controversial one-child policy and allowing families in which one parent is an only child to have two children, though Littlejohn has argued that this development will not sufficiently change things for the better for Chinese women and families.
As for the Guangzhou abandoned babies, Xu explained that the center will try to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases.
"Parents bring their ill babies to big cities in the hope of having them cured. But many just end up abandoning them," Xu explained.
"In fact before the establishment of the baby hatch, 80 percent of the unwanted babies at our center were found in hospitals. Ninety-eight percent of children in our center now are disabled abandoned children who can not live by themselves."
Zhuang Yuequn, bureau chief of Guangzhou City Civil Affairs Bureau, added that some of the babies may be transferred to other welfare centers, and that they plan to reopen the hatch when the situation improves.
Some social welfare experts have insisted that parents who illegally abandon their children should be punished.
"Abandoning babies is undoubtedly in violation of the law and morals, but the fact is the behavior cannot be fully eliminated, and abandoning babies secretly will certainly do more harm. As we can not eliminate babies being abandoned, we try to minimize the harm," said Guan Xinping, a professor of social welfare and policy from Nankai University.
"Aid should be given to the whole family. The family is crucial in providing a healthy and happy environment for handicapped children to grow up in."