J Med Ethics 33:28-34 doi:10.1136/jme.2005.014126
  • Reproduction

Crimes and misdemeanours: the case of child abandonment

  1. S Giordano
  1. Correspondence to:
 S Giordano
 CSEP/IMLAB, The University of Manchester, School of Law, Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK; simona.giordano{at}
  • Received 6 September 2005
  • Accepted 3 March 2006
  • Revised 20 February 2006


In 2002, a child was abandoned in a Burger King restaurant in Amsterdam by a Chinese woman, who hoped that the baby would be picked up by someone able to give the child a better life. She was convicted for child abandonment and imprisoned. Whereas some forms of child abandonment are criminalised, others are socially accepted and not even on the ethics agenda. This paper is an invitation to reflect on the inconsistency in the ways in which we prosecute, punish or try to correct some forms of child abandonment and yet make allowances for others.


  • Competing interests: None.