Japan Save Haven for Newborns to Reduce Abortions Draws Criticism

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 5, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Japan Save Haven for Newborns to Reduce Abortions Draws Criticism Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 5
, 2007

Tokyo, Japan (LifeNews.com) — Following a trend in the United States where safe havens have been established to help prevent infanticides of newborn infants, Japan has opened its first save haven. The hospital "baby drop" is meant to also help reduce the country’s abortion rate but is coming under fire from the nation’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A hospital in the southwestern part of the country opened the first safe haven for parents to leave their newborn children at after getting permission from the city government.

The plans for the safe haven came after a rash of cases of abandoned infants in local parks and shopping centers. Official hope to prevent any more cases.

Jikei Hospital in the southwestern city of Kumamoto, which has ties to the Catholic Church, plans to build a hatch where parents can leave a baby. When a child is placed there, alarms will go off alerting hospital officials.

The system, which has been used in South Africa, Germany and Italy, could be in place later this month.

"We do not perform abortions. We have always been a hospital that values life," Yukiko Tajiri, head of nursing at the hospital, told Reuters. "I hope that this will attract more women to consult us, so that they know they have more options."

But Prime Minister Abe criticized the plan saying parents shouldn’t be encouraged to abandon their children.

"For a mother and father to abandon a baby anonymously — I don’t think this can be forgiven," Abe said, according to a Reuters report.

He added that the city government’s permission for the hospital to move ahead didn’t mean the nation’s central government supports it.

If parents don’t come forward to reclaim the babies, they will be handed over to adoption centers and homes for children.

Abortion in Japan is widespread in a Buddhist culture that has no opposition to it. There were more than 289,000 abortions in Japan in 2005, an average of 10.3 per every woman aged 15-44.