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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Abandoned newborns' shelter sparks debate (2)

By Xu Wei and He Dan (China Daily)

08:38, March 02, 2012

Many abandoned infants had birth defects or were seriously ill when parents abandoned them, mostly in the evening or at dawn.

"Some abandoned infants were ice-cold when we found them," Yang Li, who has worked at the institute for more than five years, said.

Yang said mosquito bites and wild animals were potential dangers to babies left on the street.

With the safe haven, babies can be left either at the incubator or in a crib inside. The bell rings after a delay of several minutes and then the institute's security guard comes to fetch the baby. The security guard also checks the incubator every two hours.

Once a baby has been left in the safe haven, staff members from the institute contact police to verify that the child has been abandoned. Later the baby will be sent to receive a health check.

According to Qin, the haven has substantially increased the chances of survival for the infants who have been dropped off there.

Their survival rate has increased from less than 50 percent to 66 percent.

The welfare institute's decision has created controversy among child welfare promoters and legal experts, some of whom say that the decision could encourage the act of infant abandonment.

"Some parents give up a baby girl because of gender discrimination or birth defects. Is it right to allow these selfish parents to give up their children?" asked Chen Wei, a lawyer from the Yingke Law Firm in Beijing.

Chen is worried that this kind of safe haven for abandoned children will encourage some parents to abdicate their legal responsibilities without good reason.

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