Press Release 06/2008

The German Ethics Council consults experts on the anonymous use of baby drops

In the Federal Republic as a whole there are about 130 clinics where women can give birth anonymously and some 80 baby drops where they can give these infants up anonymously. The aim of the operators of these privately or publicly run facilities is thereby to prevent the abandonment or killing of newborn babies. However, each such anonymous use of a baby drop breaks the law in a number of different ways, as this action is contrary to, in particular, family law, the law of guardianship, adoption law and the law governing civil status, while at the same time constituting a criminal act.

It was evident from the experts' contributions as well as from the discussion that the provision for anonymous birth and the availability of baby drops had not led to a fall in the number of babies abandoned and killed.

A vigorous debate ensued on the extent to which the mother's personal rights and desire for anonymity should or should not take precedence over the child's fundamental right to knowledge of his or her biological parentage and to integration in his or her family, and on the value to be assigned to this right as against, perhaps, survival pure and simple.

The working group already established by the Ethics Council will continue the discussion and submit proposals for further consideration of this subject to the full membership of the Council for its December meeting.