July 1, 2003, n.p.
© 2003, KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWSPAPERS. Distributed by KNIGHT-RIDDER/TRIBUNE Information Services.
Create a World Where Babies Aren't Abandoned
By Jane Eisner
Knight Ridder Newspapers (KRT)
Stories of infants abandoned by their mothers have haunted us ever since Yocheved placed her baby in a basket on the River Nile to escape a royal decree that the little boy be killed. We wish every baby Moses would be so generously rescued. We wish for the happy ending.
So it's understandable that, when faced with a few, heart-wrenching modern-day tales of abandoned babies, public officials would rush in to try to help. The trend began in Texas in 1999, after a dozen babies were abandoned in Houston in less than a year, and lawmakers adopted a "safe haven" law to encourage women to leave their unwanted babies in a hospital or other safe location.
In the four years since, the idea has swept like summer wind through the bulrushes. Forty-two states now have safe-haven laws; Pennsylvania's was just enacted in February.
To what good, we might ask.
The Newborn Protection Act did no good in the middle of the night last Sunday at B Street near Allegheny Avenue in Philadelphia, when a newborn was found abandoned in a diaper bag on a roadway outside a warehouse, within miles of some of the finest hospitals in the nation.
Since no state funds have been dedicated to promote the new law, it's no wonder that the infant's mother did not know she could remain anonymous and avoid prosecution if only she had relinquished the child at a hospital. (As it is, she will not be charged.)
But the rush to enact safe-haven laws suffers from more than a lack of publicity. With the noble intention of saving lives, the laws turn a practice regarded as primitive--leaving a baby in a basket on a doorstep--into something deserving of a marketing campaign. If the...
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