I am someone notorious for lateness. Late arrivals, late returns of books, dvds. I have been fined many a time, and in the past avoided the library for years for fear of the fines that awaited me. Currently (thanks to a name change) I am in the clear. The library chute was my friend, providing a faceless opportunity to return that book that had graced my shelves for a year or so, with accumulated fines that could have bought the book two or three times over. So I am all for chutes. But for babies?
Let me explain. I read the paper today accompanied by an excellent latte at my favorite cafe in Belgrave, Earthly Pleasures. Today’s paper seemed littered with stories about unwanted children. In Perth a dead baby was found in a plastic bag, in a handbag, at the tip. I feel horrified even typing out these words. They are real, the picture devastating, but true. A couple of articles later, a five year old boy murdered by his substance addicted father. A few pages more I learned that in Germany and Italy, hospitals now have chutes for unwanted babies. They provide an opportunity for mothers to safely and discreetly deposit their unwanted babies. This saddens me greatly. Not that Germany has taken this initiative, for surely it is a better alternative than the fate of the little baby boy from Perth, but why is such a thing necessary? How can our ‘advanced’ western society have broken down to such an extent that a mother unable to care for her baby has no option but to “dispose” of the infant? I understand that there are many reasons that may lead a woman to make such a decision, and it is tragic, for both mother and baby. But even more lamentable is a society that can be so disconnected that a tiny boy can be thrown out in the garbage with no-one knowing, and no-one offering an alternative to support the mother, either in keeping or relinquishment, or caring for her if the boy was stillborn. When the church engages with the issues of mothers and unwanted babies, too often the focus is restricted to strong stands against abortion. The church (once again) is noted more for what it is against in this issue, rather than being part of the answers to the social/political/economic/psychological issues that lead to unwanted pregnancies, unwanted babies, and the need for chutes.