By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 27, 2007

The Times of London reports that Germany is implementing an old Catholic idea to counter an ancient but newly troublesome problem:

Desperate mothers are being urged to drop their unwanted babies through hatches at hospitals in an effort to halt a spate of infanticides that has shocked Germany. At least 23 babies have been killed so far this year, many of them beaten to death or strangled by their mothers before being dumped on wasteland and in dustbins.

"Selectively shockable" would seem to be the motto of the post-Christian West. Having abandoned moral absolutes (or "gotten beyond a one-size-fits-all morality," as progressives put it), the public outrage provoked by a given type of atrocity has almost nothing to do with its objective wickedness and almost everything to do with political fashions -- fashions that in turn determine which atrocities the media permit the public to view, and which they keep hidden. The same injuries, inflicted on the same creature of the same age, give rise to shock when they take place a few inches outside the uterine wall and to yawns when they take place within it. Back to the Times:

Now city councils have launched an advertising campaign to highlight the problem and to promote greater use of the Baby-Klappe hatches that allow women to drop off their babies to be found and cared for without having to give their names. Posters were being put up in cities and towns across Germany yesterday, urging women to make use of the Baby-Klappe, with the slogan "Before babies land in the rubbish bin ..."

In the context of other threats to children, OTR earlier mentioned the role of Catholic Italy's foundling hospitals in the rescue of abandoned babies. Coincidentally, the Whappers give us a photo and discussion here of a Roman specimen of the turn-table by which the swap was anonymously effected.

The Times tells us that the German campaign is opposed by Caritas and "senior clergymen" on the grounds that it will encourage baby-dumping -- presumably by women otherwise able to care for their children. That's surprising to me, but it's also a tough call to make by someone standing outside the situation. I'd be interested in how the Missionaries of Charity working with the poor in Germany would read the spin. The fact that the controversy exists at all is a sign -- however oblique -- that Europe is beginning to feel uneasy about the way in which secularism has kept its promises.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 27, 2007 8:02 PM ET USA

    And they laughed when we talked about abortion being the first step on a slippery slope of devaluing human life. Now child abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) has reached epidemic proportions, and the "civilized" societies of the world don't know what to do. God help them!

  • Posted by: - Mar. 27, 2007 7:07 PM ET USA

    I think the German-speaking people are the only ethnic group on Earth to have its own, singular word for "beaten to death."

  • Posted by: - Mar. 27, 2007 11:23 AM ET USA

    I seem to recall the prevention of "baby dumping" as one of the original justifications for abortion. As for "babies land in the rubbish bin", the Germans should have thought about that 70 years ago.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 27, 2007 10:39 AM ET USA

    A woman who is truly capable of taking care of a child would never "dump it." The senior clergymen appear more worried about the expense of taking care of the children than about their welfare. Killing inconvenient babies that are born is the natural trajectory of killing inconvenient babies that are unborn--so predictable and so sad.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 27, 2007 8:17 AM ET USA

    Those 23 German mothers should be given some books by Peter Singer, Joseph Fletcher or Jonathan Glover. They would learn that no wrong was really done. So much for the wrongness of giving birth and throwing the baby in the trash. The hospitals are right, and Caritas and the "senior clergymen" are so wrong. Why is that in so many instances the senior clergymen have been wrong ? I guess it is because they are intent on implementing the reforms of Vatican II, or promoting the spirit of Vatican II.