Every day, newborns are disposed of, flushed down the toilet, strangled, abandoned and left to die.
One child was saved today, due to the heroic efforts of firefighters in Beijing (Reuters). They had to cut open a sewer pipe to save the baby. Sources reports that the abandoned newborn was lodged in a sewer pipe under a toilet commode, but the baby survived.
Under Chinese population restrictions, a family is permitted one child. Fear of the penalties imposed by the authorities make the families unwilling to disclose the pregnancy or birth, which often takes place in secret, out of sight of the official scrutiny that having the birth in a hospital would bring. Chinese media proves frequent reports of babies being abandoned shortly after birth. The Chinese government puts greater value on boys than girls, according to these reports.
Abandoning a baby to the elements is a practice that goes back at least to Roman times. One out of every eight babies born in the world will be abandoned. That adds up to more than one million children abandoned each year.
In Oceania until the 20th century, infanticide was carried by suffocating the infant. In third-century Greece, babies were roasted inside the burning pit as a sacrifice to the gods.
In an article published by the Journal of Forensic Sciences in 1990, the authors reported that more than six hundred children in the U.S. were killed by their parents in 1983.
So babies face the possibility that they will be flushed down the toilet, strangled, dropped in a dumpster, or simply left to die in the street.
The number of mothers who leave their babies and run away is increasing, at least in the United States, according to the U. S. Census Bureau. This is based in part upon an analysis of single fathers, which has increased from 600,000 in 1982 to more than 2 million in 2011.
The reason may be because the mother does not bond with the child. The mother may not be aware she is pregnant, until her water breaks. Another reason is simply that the family does not have the means to feed and clothe the infant.
The reasons for this may relate to the lack of bonding between mother and child. Or the parents may lack the financial resources to provide sustenance and care. An opinion column in The Washington Times listed a number of reasons for abandonment. The parents may not wish to accept the responsibility of caring for the child. The mother may value her career more highly than motherhood and family. The mother may not have the support of her family. She may be so exhausted and depressed that she is overwhelmed. She herself may have been abandoned by her spouse.
Another reason may be that the mother has met another man and wants to start a new life without the burden of a child.
A study published in the Social Psychology and Personality Science attributes it to “clinical narcissism,” arising from feelings of entitlement, a lack of morality sensibilities and a reaction to a competitive society on the part of the parents. Two out of every three people may have this disorder.
The case against Casey Anthony trial relied upon the prosecution’s depiction of her as a “party girl” who callously left her two-year-child in a dumpster because she thought that the baby would interfere with her social life. She was ultimately acquitted of charges of murder and manslaughter.
On the other hand, there is the argument that parents have the right to end their child’s life. In an article in published by the British Medical Journal, medical ethicist Francesca Minerva has argued that Doctors should have the right to kill newborn babies who have a disability that was not detected by the parents prior to the birth. A mother should have the right to have an “after-birth abortion” if the baby is too expensive to care for, or if the baby is simply unwanted.
Dr. Minerva expressed the opinion that a newborn is not a person, because it has not developed goals and aspirations, and is therefore not a person.
The U. S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade (1973), held that the right to have an abortion is protected by the U.S. Constitution, and that a fetus became acquired constitutional rights after 24 weeks of gestation. The Court reduced it to 22 weeks in Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
Powerful religious institutions such as the Catholic Church hold that human life begins at conception. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the Church’s position in this regard, and stated that that life should be respected from conception to natural death. Studies of fetuses in the womb have indicated that a child in the womb can feel pain after 26 weeks. An article in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine reports the findings of developmental neurobiologists that thalamocortical connections developed at that period may allow the fetus to perceive pain. They also have the ability to hear while in the womb.
Dr. Minerva pointed out in the article that “after-birth abortion” is a misnomer, because it is not abortion. But flushing a baby down the toilet, strangling it, or leaving it to die is also does not constitute abortion.
But there are humanitarian responses to child abandonment. In South Korea, where hundreds of unwanted babies are abandoned in the street every year, Lee Jong-rak, a Korean pastor, has constructed a drop box beside his home, with a sign reading, “Place to leave babies.” The inside of the box is padded with a thick towel, and provided with lights and heating. A bell rings when someone places a baby in the box, and there is an immediate response by Jong-rak, his wife, or staff associates, who bring the baby inside…
A baby box is also utilized in hospitals in Switzerland. A silent alarm is activated, and in three minutes the child is rescued. A mother who abandons her child in some parts of Switzerland can face up to 5 years in prison.
Prosecution of child killers is another response to this problem. A man was recently sentenced to death in China for killing a baby. He had stolen a parked sports utility vehicle and later discovered the baby in the back seat of the vehicle. He strangled the child and buried the baby in the snow. He was also fined $8,065 fine for the theft and $2,793 to the family for the loss of baby.
It appears that in China, at least, the monetary value of a child’s life that has ended by drowning in a sewer pipe, strangulation or abandonment has been established.