It is difficult to make ends meet in these tough economic times. Europe is in the continued midst of the Euro crisis and austerity programs to attempt to turn the tide of grave financial imbalances.
The casualty of these crises are more than hedge funds, oil refineries, and public confidence. More and more it is a human crisis which is felt very personally. It is about being homeless as a result of job loss and downsizing. It is about elderly people and helpless people who rely on government subsidies being cut off and cast out. It is now about children who are born into the economic chaos of their parent's nation.
In the past children which were born illegitmately or for some reason needed to be given up for adoption or what was thought to be a better opportunity in life were abandoned at convents, using a kind of "wheel". This device which would hold the abandoned infant in an attached cradle would be then turned into the confines of a convent and rescued by the sisters there. This is a practice which began in medieval times and is called a foundling wheel. Unfortunately a variation of this type of device is now in use today in the EU and more are springing up as the economic crisis there deepens.
Children have been abandoned at day care centers in Greece, at hospitals in Italy and elsewhere in 11 countries of the EU. Can you even imagine having to give up your child because you cannot feed them? A choice like that is difficult to make and more may be forced to make it before the crisis is better for all families.
With the increase of children left, 20% more in Greece and Italy, than in years past, safer ways have been designed so that parents can abandon their children and not feel the effects of the EU law that states you cannot abandon your children as well as their own personal anguish at leaving their child forever with someone else.
Hospitals have situation handling set up for this type of instance even when a mothers give birth, for children already born, they have baby boxes, where a child can be left, in private and safely. These boxes are alarmed to go off when a child is placed on the surface of the box and immediately retrieved. Upon removal of the child, the box is again made ready with clean sheets to wait for the next infant alarm to sound.
In the midst of this EUcrisis it is hoped that birth control will be accessible to the women who are forced for economic reasons to abandon their infants so that they may control their own reproductive situation beyond this drastic measure.
Children beyond the infant stage, who know their parents, are also being abandoned at day care centers and nursery schools. Sometime groups of children from the same family are being left with notes advising of the abandonment and that it is for economic reasons. The penalty and fines for abandonment in the EU, for parents of these children, are steep but tend to be overlooked if the situation is dire, if the there is no food, if the child is abandoned in a church or hospital. In both Italy and Greece women can give birth anonymously and leave the child at the hospital of birth with no legal ramifications.
The idea of the baby boxes is to prevent a mother from leaving a child in a situation where they might die or be harmed. The UN (UNCRC United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) does not agree with the concept of baby boxes because it feels that every child has a right to know its parents. They feel that the mother should be given welfare assistance in order to maintain the child herself. This is a valid point for consideration and also the argument that children benefit when their parents practice birth control effectively, especially when there are economic hardships. The UNCRC also believes that while supporting the mother at this time, it maybe still necessary for the child to be put up for adoption and stress that is an option for the mother if done legally.
In countries where religion, birth control availibility, and abortion rights are all considered issues, decisions can be more complex for the mother who did not have access to control her reproductive life and has been put into an impossible situation which might also affect her other children. There is no very good answer. What mother wants to carry a child to term, only to be forced for economic reasons to give that child up? The stress of unemployment, and no money for food and housing is what propells the mother to do the unthinkable, to abandon her child. She is choosing life for the child if she uses a baby box at a hospital or church, and that is perhaps her greatest gift. Is it really abandonment or is she considering it opportunity for the child?
No one knows how long this economic crisis will last, how other factors such as climate change, politics, religion, and more will impact the standards of living in the EU or even here. What really matters is that we treat people with respect, acknowledge their needs, support reproductive rights for women so that every child is a child that has food, has a safe future and opportunity for a good life.
Whether or not you agree with birth control and abortion rights is not more important than the welfare of a child who is born and should be given a chance at life.
For more information on this crisis here is an article by Barbie Latza Nadeau:
More here on the UN:
Copyright 2012 by SheilaTGTG55