The Wheel of the Innocents.

Beginning in 1445, this grate located on the outside of the Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) served as a drop-off point for the foundlings of Florence. This is what happened when a woman abandoned her baby here:   

She turned the wheel. The child spun around in turnstile like a pack of
cigarettes at a 24 hour deli. Once on the other side, the child began a
short slide down a chute into "the basin of abandonment". On either
side of the basin kneeled two terra-cotta figures. For looking over the
basin was Mary and Joseph, the basin doubling as a manger. The child is
quickly picked up and brought to be wet-nursed. But for one brief
moment the child is Jesus himself.

The Ospedale degli Innocenti has cared for over 375,000 in its five and a half centuries, and continues to help care for abandoned children today.

-- Curious Expeditions

The use of the wheel ended in 1875, but the idea itself survives:

Technicians [in Rome] are designing a high-tech version of the traditional
“revolving crib”, or “foundling wheel”. Half of the wheel will be
outside the hospital wall and the other half inside. Staff inside the
hospital will turn the wheel to collect the infant without seeing who
has left it.

Grazia Passeri, the head of the Italian Civil
Rights Association, said that the first modern “foundling wheel” would
be installed at a leading hospital by Christmas. “We have to face the
fact that a lot of women simply cannot cope with being mothers or
become pregnant by accident or through rape,” she said.

This is beyond shameful, mainly because the father is apparently deemed to have no rights whatsoever. Does he have NO say in what happens to his child?? Wouldn't some (possibly many) of these children be better off if the father was given a chance to care for them? This is a sad indictment of the perceived worth of fathers, not just in this society, but in many. Is the father allowed to "donate" a baby without consent of the mother? Of course not- *that* would be "wrong". But it's okay for mom to dump her kid like a used bottle.
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As someone who was adopted herself, and whom discovered (after finding her birthmother) that my birth father does not know i exsist, I would hazard to guess that women who abandon thier babies do not have a support network to fall back on.. this means no loving partner, no supporting family. My mother was able to keep my older brother, whom she had with her first husband as a teen and was raised by his paternal grandparents, but I was given up for adoption because i was the product of a brief relationship that ended prior to her even discovering that she was pregnant and by that time was in no position to raise a child or have family who could take the responsibility on themselves. If a father figure is there to take that responsibility then of course, these women would not be in the position they are in. The sad fact is, too many people are all about the sexual act without thinking of the resulting consequences.
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Great idea, Mike. Let's hand the kid over to the irresponsible prick who got the woman pregnant in the first place (all rape victims should want their baby raised by their rapist, right?). If the mother feels she has no options other than to give away her baby, I'd be willing to bet that the father (in most cases) is long gone.

And yes, it is okay for the mother to make that decision, especially if the father is no longer in the picture. She's the one who had to put up with the baby taking nutrients from her body, giving her stretch marks, causing her pain and discomfort, and ultimately putting her life at risk. She's also going to have to do most of the child-rearing. It's her choice (and I don't see why it's such a horrible choice to give up your baby when you know you can't properly take care of it... seems like the more loving thing to do...).
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I think the idea itself is a great one. We'd be a lot better off if parents who couldn't care for their babies (emotionally or financially) turned them over to wanting couples who could.

Unfortunately, in today's society (American... I don't know about yours), illegitimate births are no longer scandalized and the women (yes, the scum "baby daddies" are usually long gone) are in fact rewarded with greater and greater dispursements from the public trough. The resultant children are rarely cared for well, and through lack of proper parenting, wind up being menances and drains on society themselves. By the time most of them ultimately wind up in the foster care system, they are incorrigible and unadoptable. If we stopped rewarding out-of-wedlock birth, many of these babies would be given a proper home and loving upbringing (the enablers to success) rather than being seen as ticket to a bigger bucket of freebies.

Straight talk from Sid.
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I think this kind of "wheel of the innocents" exists in other parts of Europe, mostly in catholic convents of closed orders. In Spain we call that wheel "torno", and it's the same, the nuns used this wheel to contact with the world, and there they found food, money or, as you say, abandonned babies.
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I am torn between what I was raised to believe and my own personal view. Very controversial and it is sad that it is shown to be the "norm" for centuries, and up to today.
It sure beats paramedics breathing life into a dumpster baby.
L has a great view on it, and being a very irisponsible
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Mike is right. A woman has the right to choose, but the father has no say. Yes, some unwanted babies are concieved through rape. But more women get pregnant by lying to their partners about birth control than get pregnant by rape. So the woman gets pregnant by deceit and the man has to pay child support. This happens more often than you might think. She can have an abortion if she doesn't want to be a mother, but the man has no such option if he doesn't want to be a father. Of course I don't think that men should be able to force womaen to have abortions, but there is no way of men opting out of fatherhood if the woman chooses to have the baby, which is patently unfair. Sexist, even. And no, paternal abstinence is not the solution: it takes two, people.
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This option still exists in many places. Japan recently opened a modern version of the same thing. Calling it a baby drop box. Unfortunatly, the first "baby" was a three year old kid.

Regardless of the above, yes the father has rights to the child, but for whatever reason his rights are often not followed up on.

If this gives a mother and child an option for a better life, I say give them the chance.
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'its so unfair men aren't allowed to get pregnant and womaen can. sexist, even'

'those bastard brats are MENANCES, and their slut mothers get buckets of freebies and rewards they don't deserve'

'rapists would make way better parents than their fifteen year old victims'
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