Baby drops, which have existed in Germany since 1999, and facilities for anonymous birth were established with the aim of preventing the abandonment and killing of infants. Estimates indicate that since those facilities were introduced, some 500 children have effectively become foundlings with permanently anonymous origins.
The existing facilities for anonymous birth raise serious ethical and legal problems, in particular because they violate the right of the children with respect to the knowledge of their origins and the relationship with their parents. Moreover, experience to date suggests that the assistance offered does not reach women at risk of killing or abandoning their newborn babies. Furthermore, the emergency or conflict of the women concerned is not resolved by handing over the child. In many cases, the suffering of the women who accept the offer of an anonymous relinquishment without accompanying counselling increases afterwards. Anonymous relinquishment of infants can have serious consequences for the psychological development of the children. The anonymity of their origins might cause them much sorrow and pain throughout their lives. Yet, it might furthermore affect mothers and also fathers, who are irreversibly closed off from contact with their biological child. The facilities receive much critical attention and invite controversy, since their advocates assume that they are justified even if only one life is saved.
On 26 November 2009, the German Ethics Council published its Opinion Anonymous relinquishment of infants: tackling the problem.