Rome may have a new ruota for foundling babies a place where new mothers, who feel that for some reason they cannot keep their baby, may leave them to be cared for. Up until the 19th century, unwanted newborn babies were usually left at a convent where the child would be put onto a wheel-like mechanism (ruota in Italian); the mother would ring the convent bell, then disappear, leaving the nuns to turn the wheel and take the child into care in the convent, while the mother remained anonymous.
The need for a similar system has arisen in several European countries where young women immigrants, who have recently arrived and have no family support, are abandoning their small babies in rubbish bins, where they have little chance of survival. There have been three cases of this type of infanticide in Rome in recent months and the authorities and some charities are looking for a solution to the problem. They must decide the best place to have a reception point, at an easily accessible but private and anonymous place, perhaps at a large hospital.
A group of advertising agents who work with the Council for Refugees has offered to pay for an information campaign in several languages to persuade women, who do not want to or who are unable to keep their child, that their baby can be adopted or fostered. One suggestion is that, as the women who have the greatest fear of keeping their babies are often in domestic work, posters should be placed close to rubbish-collection points, where babies are in fact being abandoned.