Already a country with the lowest birth-rate in the European Union, Portugal is further cursed by being a nation which has started abandoning more babies due to the crisis.
According to national tabloid Correio da Manhã, the number of newborns left in strategic spots wrapped in blankets, or otherwise given up for adoption, has “increased with the crisis and unemployment”.
One of the latest cases happened over the festive season in Setúbal.
A newborn baby boy was left in a sheltered gutter outside the town’s Casa de Santa Ana, run by nuns and with a tradition for “taking in poor children” since 1947.
The child was “well wrapped up” in a blanket placed inside a basket, but very lucky all the same – as he was left outside the building in extremely cold temperatures at some point around 3am.
Police have gauged the time from the point where the child was found by a man on a bicycle, apparently on his way to work in a market.
The man is understood to have seen the “volume” placed in the gutter and wondered what it was.
“He decided to turn back and find out,” wrote CM. “Pulling back the covers, he discovered the baby.”
According to the Salesian Sisters who run Casa de Santa Ana, no-one used the doorbell to alert them to the child outside, but as his blanket was dry “and it was an extremely humid night”, all are agreed that he could not have been in the gutter for very long.
The child was immediately taken to hospital, where he has remained ever since. CM reports that he is out of danger and very likely to be adopted “within weeks”.
Staff at Setúbal hospital’s Neonatal unit are reported to be certain the boy was born only an hour or so before he was abandoned, particularly as he had his umbilical cord still attached.
As CM reports, cases like these are swiftly put up for adoption “so that the biological mother cannot turn up later and reclaim the child”.
Mothers who abandon babies in this way risk a five-year jail term, adds the paper.