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When Good Laws Go Bad

Safe haven laws are good ideas?and I support the concept. Sometimes though, even a good idea can go horribly wrong.

Perhaps you have never heard the concept of ?safe haven laws?. These are laws passed by states in the United States to prevent the abandonment of infants. The idea is that a mother can anonymously turn her child in at a hospital, fire house or police station after birth and avoid a penalty or prosecution. The child is safe, and the mom is safe too. It?s a ?simple? concept, but the wording of some of the laws is where it all goes downhill.

In Pennsylvania for example, a young mother called a fire station after placing her infant at the door. In that state though, it?s only legal to anonymously turn you child in at a hospital. I simply could not believe the news story which announced that the police were asking for leads on the identity of the child?s mother. I mean, what is the goal here? Eventually they did find the mother, but I haven?t heard if they made the decision to prosecute her as they technically can do so under that version of the safe haven law.

Another poorly worded safe haven law has received much media attention recently. In Nebraska, a safe haven law was passed recently which allows parents to abandon their child at a hospital without any penalty. This law never specified an age limit for the abandoned child though. Parents have been driving from out of state to abandon their teenagers at Nebraska hospitals because it is legal to do so. In the few months that the law has been in effect, 35 children have been left at hospitals by their parents.

Some claim that this is a sign of how many parents have nowhere to turn when a teen is out of control. Some of the parents have said that they have had no other choice but to use this option because they ?had no where to turn.?

Do you think that there is a failure of social services and communities to provide resources to parents who are dealing with difficult situations with their children? Do you feel that safe haven laws are a good idea?


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