Mothers across Europe can abandon newborn babies in a so-called "baby box"—incubators located discreetly outside some hospitals. But one UN committee is lobbying to overturn the practice, saying the boxes ultimately hurt children and avoid dealing with the deeper causes of child abandonment, the AP reports. "They are a bad message for society," says Maria Herczog, a psychologist on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child—which is pressing the European Parliament to ban the boxes.
"These boxes violate children's rights and also the rights of parents to get help from the state to raise their families," adds Herczog. Advocates contend that the boxes give struggling mothers a safe and easy solution. "The important thing is that her baby is now in a safe place," says German pastor Gabriele Stangl, who lobbied for the first baby box and believes they protect newborns from infanticide. Yet Germany's infanticide rate remained unchanged after baby boxes arrived, and the country's per capita rate is similar to that of Britain, which has no baby boxes.