Baby Safe Haven

Topics: Infant, Child abandonment, Abandonment Pages: 7 (3040 words) Published: July 28, 2010
A local woman calls law enforcement after hearing a knock at 4:26a.m. Opening it she found a newborn infant laying on her door step. According to the reports from authorities, the infant was lying on a white towel wearing nothing and only appeared to be only two hours old. The infant was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where she was treated for hypothermia. Unfortunately child abandonment cases like the one fore mentioned is not uncommon and pose a huge form of child neglect that can lead to death. Before 1999 cases like this was common in many states such as Texas. Statistics show that one out of 3 did not stand a chance at life. Thus the Safe Haven (“Baby Moses”) law was implemented to aid in minimizing acts of child abandonment and infant deaths; by giving parents a place to safely relinquish custody in the allotted timeframe provided by their state without criminal charges. The Safe Haven benefits the rights of children and it keeps them from being harmed. The one thing that the policy does not include is absolute immunity. In certain states if a baby is unharmed the parent(s) are safe. In other states if the baby is safe the parent(s) receive affirmative defense against the law. In any state if the baby is harmed the parent(s) will receive prosecution in that case the baby would most likely not be turned over to authorities The “Baby Moses law” was first developed and implemented in Texas in 1999. There were many events and statistics gathered prior to the passing of the law. Before the Law approximately 33 infants was abandoned on a yearly bases. Unfortunately the federal government does not keep a number of abandoned babies in public each year. The Department of Health and Human Services conducted a search and found that there were reports of over 105 infants abandoned and 33 of those that were abandoned were found dead. Numbers were not gathered between the years of 1991and 1998 and it was excess of 31,000 “boarder babies”, which are babies left in the hospitals or deemed ineligible. Many parents resulted to such measures when they felt they could not care for their child and felt they had no options. At the time leaving a child with someone was a felony offence and was considered child abandonment. As you may see these statistics was an eye opener to the state of Texas which gave them much need for passing the law. The rest of the US started to pay attention and it was later adapted in every state. This law protects those parents who feel like that they are incapable of taking care of their child to safely relinquish custody without fault or criminal action taken toward them. For every state there is a different rendition of the safe haven law. The amount of time to report to a safe haven location varies from state to state. For example: Florida allows 7 days from birth for a parent to relinquish custody of a child. Other states allow as much as 90 days or as few as three days from birth. Missouri is the only states that allows up to one year from birth. An age restraint was issued late in Nebraska being the last state in the US to implement the law. After having issues with the word “child” early on when first implementing the law 21 children over the targeted age of infancy were dropped off to safe haven locations. There were reported cases of parents dropping off teenagers as old as 16 to hospitals because of the vague wording. One case involving a 16 year old girl being dropped off to a hospital in Nebraska and the child wasn’t even aware of the circumstances and resulted in her becoming a ward of the state. Because of the massive misunderstanding the legislation had to amend the law so that it only applies to infants up to three days old. Initially, this is a good start but I believe that the time limit in all states should to the very least be one year so that it can allot for time mothers go through post partum depression. The safe haven alliance has found that some of the cases of child abandonment...
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