Newborn left in Antwerp’s “foundling drawer”
Politicians from the leading parties have repeated calls to legalise giving birth anonymously, following the discovery of another baby left in the special “foundling drawer” in the Borgerhout district of Antwerp last weekend.
Proposals for a new law, which have the support of the four main Flemish parties, would allow a mother to give birth in a hospital under medical supervision and her identity given only to an independent service. When the birth is registered with the local municipality, the name of the mother would not be included. Later, if the child requests information, the new service would act as a contact between the various parties. They would also provide psychological counselling to the mother if requested.
The measure aims to avoid a situation that has now occurred three times in a year: a mother gives birth and leaves the baby in the foundling drawer, so that she cannot be identified. The non-profit Mothers for Mothers maintains the foundling drawer – essentially a warm incubator behind a door that sends an alarm to the charity if opened. The new law would also help mothers avoid prosecution: Abandoning a baby, even in a safe circumstance, is a crime.
Some months ago, Mother for Mothers said, another newborn was left in the foundling drawer, without any announcement in the media. The child and its mother have since been reunited. A baby found in the drawer last summer is now being fostered.
The latest foundling, Baby Pieter – named after two of the charity’s former lawyers and surnamed De Kleine (the little), as are all foundlings – was said to be in good health. He is under the guardianship of the chair of Antwerp’s social aid agency, Leen Verbist, while a foster family is sought.