UN Criticism of Baby Boxes and Child Abandonment: 'End Program ASAP'

UN criticism of "baby boxes" has come to a head as the European practice of abandoning a child in a hatch outside a hospital becomes more and more commonplace. Proponents of baby boxes say it protects children from infanticide, however.

The UN criticism of "baby boxes" stems from their Committee on the Rights of the Child, which maintains that baby boxes "[contravene] the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents," according to the Guardian. The committee is made of 18 international human rights experts based in Geneva.

The experts discovered that the baby boxes- once prevalent in the 1800s and before- had experienced a resurgence. Nearly 200 have been placed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Latvia, and the Czech Republic, with 400 children abandoned since 2000. The Czech Republic is especially supportive of the policy.

"It is a misunderstanding and miscomprehension," said Ludvik Hess, the founder of baby boxes for the Czech Republic. "The baby boxes are in harmony with the convention in all of its 54 articles. Its basic idea is to protect children's lives and baby boxes do help save them." Hess wants to see 70 boxes exist in his country.

Despite some of the support for the contraptions, the United Nations's CRC pointed to the Czech Republic's abysmal statistics for institutional care: out of every 10,000 newborns, 62 are placed in foster care- that's much higher than the EU average of 10.

Maria Herczog, a member of the CRC, told the Guardian that the age-old argument of infanticide prevention as an excuse for baby boxes is nothing new, but "evidence" of the claims is still lacking.

"Just like medieval times in many countries we see people claiming that baby boxes prevent infanticide … there is no evidence for this," she explained. Herczog, a Hungarian child psychologist, also pointed out that mothers had other options, like family planning, women's counseling, adoption, and state support for unplanned pregnancies.

The CRC requested of the Czech Republic to "undertake all measures necessary to end the programme as soon as possible."

Of all the European countries, Germany has the most baby boxes, with 80 drop-offs around the country.