Moral Low Ground


Video: Newborn ‘Baby 59’ Recovering after Harrowing Rescue from Chinese Sewer Pipe

May 28, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in Asia/Pacific with 0 Comments

A newborn baby boy is recovering in a Chinese hospital after being rescued from a sewer pipe beneath a squat toilet.

Firefighters rescued the infant– named Baby No. 59 for the number on his hospital incubator– after he was discovered wedged in a sewage pipe beneath a squat toilet in a shared bathroom in an apartment building in Jinhua, Zhejiang province on Saturday. The placenta was still attached to the tiny boy, who weighed just five pounds (2.3 kg).

According to the state-run Zhejiang News, a concerned tenant notified authorities after hearing the baby’s cries of distress. A two-hour rescue, which captivated Chinese television and internet viewers, ensued, with the rescue crew cutting out an L-shaped section of the pipe, which measured just 10 cm (3.9 inches) in diameter, before rushing both pipe and baby to a local hospital. There, the pipe was further dismantled and the baby was removed.

The BBC reports that Baby 59 is now listed in stable condition.

Police originally treated the incident as an attempted homicide and launched a search for the boy’s mother. Having located her, authorities now believe that the unmarried woman was hiding her pregnancy and that the baby fell into the toilet when his mother unexpectedly gave birth.

“The woman was on the scene during the entire rescue process… and admitted [she was the mother] when we asked her,” a local police officer told Agence France-Presse. The officer added that authorities were investigating whether “she had any malicious intentions” before deciding what, if any, legal action to take against her.

A doctor at the hospital where the boy is recovering told Zhejiang News that he will be placed in the custody of social services if his parents do not claim him.

Reports of babies being abandoned in China, which still adheres to an official one-child-per-family policy, are commonplace, although it is usually girls who are victims. Critics blame the one-child policy for the high number of abandonments. But with abortions widely and cheaply available, many observers say that the one-child policy alone cannot account for the shocking abandonment phenomenon. Having children out of wedlock still carries a significant social stigma in China; this could have also motivated the boy’s mother.

The case of Baby 59 has elicited intense reactions from many Chinese, who took to Sina Weibo- a Twitter-like social media site– to express their outrage.

“Can these people be called human beings?” one user asked, referring to the baby’s parents.

“The parents who did this have hearts even filthier than that sewage pipe,” another user wrote, according to Reuters.

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