In Germany, Adventist Chaplain Honored for Saving Babies
An 11-year effort in the Berlin, Germany, district of Zehlendorf, to save infant lives has been recognized by the national government. Gabriele Stangl, chaplain of the Waldfriede Seventh-day Adventist Hospital there, was awarded the Federal Republic of Germany’s Medal of Merit in a ceremony led by Steglitz-Zehlendorf mayor Norbert Kopp.
STATE HONOR: Seventh-day Adventist chaplain Gabriele Stangl, with Norbert Kopp, district mayor of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Berlin, at a ceremony during which Stangl received the Federal Republic of Germany’s Medal of Merit for her work with abandoned babiesThe “baby hatch” is a specially constructed box, with sensors, but without video surveillance, where an infant can be placed anonymously. “If a mother opens the door and places a newborn in the warming bed,” Stangl explained, “sensors send a delayed alarm to the continuously manned gatehouse, so that the mother has enough time to leave the area undetected.” The baby will be immediately brought to the hospital’s nursery, and receives any necessary medical care. Foster families are assigned to care for the children, who can be reclaimed during an eight-week period; otherwise, the children are made available for adoption.
Stangl got the idea after counseling a dying 80-year-old woman who’d regretted the death of her baby, as well as others who were concerned about being identified as being pregnant, for various reasons. The north German city of Hamburg had established a similar refuge, and Stangl, working in her spare time, established such a program at Waldfriede. During its 11 years of operation, about 20 infants have been placed in the baby hatch, and another 110 women were able to anonymously give birth at the hospital.
The 91-year-old Waldfriede Adventist Hospital has 170 beds and served 9,000 inpatients and 18,000 outpatients last year.
—Herbert Bodenmann, Adventist Press Service, Switzerland