Europe's first 'baby bank' set to open

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The Independent Online

Like empty bottles being dropped into a recycling bank, unwanted infants will be posted through a flap to land in Europe's first baby bank under a new scheme in Hamburg.

Like empty bottles being dropped into a recycling bank, unwanted infants will be posted through a flap to land in Europe's first baby bank under a new scheme in Hamburg.

The newborns will be pushed through an infant-sized chute at a day care centre in the city. They will fall into a warm, cushioned bed and will be looked after by care workers.

In the event the parents do not re-think their decision during a two month cooling off period, the babies will be put up for adoption or fostering.

Operation Foundling, to be launched in three weeks, has been denounced as the throwaway society gone mad. "Charges must be brought against the first person who leaves their child there," said Viviane Spethmann, a Christian Democrat city councillor.

But its supporters say the scheme is a pioneering attempt to reach out to desperate mothers who might otherwise abandon their babies to die. The mothers will be guaranteed anonymity although details of the babies' identities will be registered by project workers.

Hans-Jochen Jaschke, the local Roman Catholic bishop, supported the idea. "This is a good signal for our society," he said. "Every person needs a chance to live."

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