Running Head: The intention of this new law is to give mothers who do not wish to provide care for their infants an alternative.
There are magnitudes of reasons why a woman will abandon a baby, but an increasing number of state officials have decided that the reasons are irrelevant: The answer is how can the state stop babies from being thrown into dumpsters and left to die?
Child abandonment law
How prevalent is child abaondement? Unfortunately, no one knows for sure. However, safe child legislation will give mothers an alternative to leaving their newborn child in an unsafe place. Making available a safety net for these infants is a major concern for all humanity. Unwanted Infants are wrapped in plastic and tossed out with the trash, left in dumpsters, dark closets, restrooms, and other horrific places. Their small lives have little chance to survive the elements. All people agree that such manner of attempted infanticide is devastating. No human child ought to have his or her small life ended or life fashioned from such a horrible beginning.
Unfortunately, people in our society engage in various types of behaviors that are risky. Safe child legislation will encourage mothers to turn their unwanted child over to authority’s passing their responsibilities on to others with no repercussion.
The television often displays abandonment as a colorful benevolence of a mother expressing love for the child. She puts the child in a basket lined with soft blankets; the child is smiling or sleeping peacefully. Kisses the child places a note in the basket; she then places the basket on the doorstep of someone who will welcome the child with an open heart. In reality, this is not the outcome. Babies are found dead, sick and suffering, if they are found at all. Infant abandonment law will provide support to the child and offer an alternative to the mother. "Typically, women who abandon their infants are motivated by fear of how their parents, boyfriends or husbands will react, a fear so compelling, experts say, that abandonment appears to be the only feasible option. Some have been victims of rape or domestic violence. Many are children themselves in profound denial, causing them to put off confiding in anyone until it is too late, and then to discard the infant, as if by doing so, they might convince themselves they had never really been pregnant at all. ``We are willing not to judge a woman,'' said Jaccard, a 52-year-old paramedic who started the Ambulance Medical Technicians Children of Hope Foundation: after finding the body of a full-term baby floating in a courthouse toilet in Nassau County, N.Y. Within a month of the grim discovery, another infant found dead, wrapped in a plastic bag. Then another, tossed in a recycling bin. And another, dug up by a dog in a backyard grave."
The first to initiate the abandonment law was Texas. The first Safe Abandonment law is passed in Texas in September 1999. "A billboard in Houston Texas proclaims in bold red lettering, Don't Abandon Your Baby! Take your child to an emergency medical technician at a fire station or hospital. SAVE YOUR BABY! The billboard and its message reflect a growing trend in this country, calling for laws that make it possible for birth parents to abandon an infant without facing criminal sanction. Recently, a number of states have passed or have considered passing these Safe Abandonment laws. Controversy around these laws is tremendous."
At no other time in your life is the chance of dieing by murder higher than the first day of your life; facing the highest risk of being murder are newborns. How could any one seek to harm an innocent? Most infant victims are born outside of the hospitals their birth concealed from family and friends.
In the United States, you are 10 times more likely to be murdered on the day you are born than at any other time during your life. According to the study just released by the Centers of Disease Control: "Homicide is the 15th leading cause of infant death in the United States. The risk of homicide is greater in infancy than in any other year of childhood before age 17. Infants are at greatest risk for homicide during the first week of infancy and the first day of life. Among homicides during the first week of life, 82.6% occurred on the day of birth. The homicide rate on the first day of life was more than ten times greater than the rate during any other time of life. Among homicides on the first day of life, previous work has shown that 95% of victims are not born in a hospital. The second highest peak in risk for infant homicide occurs during the eighth week of life and may be due to a caregiver's reaction to an infant's persistent crying. Infant crying duration peaks at six to eight weeks of age. Among homicides during the first week of life, 89% of perpetrators are female, usually the mother. Mothers who kill their infants are more likely to be adolescents and have a history of mental illness. First, we are making it legal to abandon a baby. In addition, there is no provision to notify a father. Children have two parents. Without requiring the mother to identify herself at the hospital, a child might be the victim of abduction, dropped at the hospital by an angry family member or neighbor. Advantages: people leave babies at police and fire stations totally supportive of the concept of attempting to save the life."
Then again, some individuals feel that you can never make anything right that is so wrong. Parents they feel should stand up and be made responsible. This is my position: people that most likely abandon or destroy these new lives are simply incapable of dealing with their own life much less the life of a child. Obviously, these mothers need someone to turn to for support. Rather than just legalizing abandonment, we essential need particular education and, additional programs for girls to resort to for support.
A new inactive that has come into the consideration of Americans’ is Safe Haven. Decisions to prosecute a person for abandoning their child are left up to individual states where the abandonment occurs. States and their child safe laws may vary in the age of the child. For instance:
• "Alabama House Bill 115, Passed: May 11, 2000, Age: 72 hours"
• "Arkansas House Bill 1070/ Act 236, Passed: February 13, 2001, Age: 30 days"
• "Delaware House Bill 120, Passed: July 9, 2001, Age: 7 days"
Summary for Kentucky Safe Haven Legislation:
Which babies may be relinquished?
• "Newborn infant:" infant who is medically determined to be less than 72hours old.
Who may relinquish a baby?
• Parent or person.
• Relinquisher must express intent to leave the child and not return.
The incentives for a person to relinquish a baby at a Safe Haven in Kentucky.
• Relinquisher's identity is confidential.
• Person or parent who relinquishes "shall have the right to remain anonymous."
• If there are indicators of child physical abuse or child neglect, the confidentiality/anonymity does not apply.
• Emergency Medical Services for Children Program shall develop guidelines and protocols for methods to preserve parental confidentiality.
Protection from Liability:
• Relinquishing parent not considered to have abandoned or endangered the child.
Who can accept a relinquished baby?
• Emergency medical services provider (hospital that offers emergency services);
• Police Station;
• Fire Station.
What are the responsibilities of a Safe Haven?
• Immediately arrange for the child to be taken to the nearest hospital emergency room.
• Hospital emergency room:
• Admit the child:
• Provide all necessary medical care, diagnostic tests, and medical treatment to any newborn infant brought to the hospital when the identity of the parents is unknown.
• Hospital has implied consent to all appropriate medical treatment.
• Shall not pursue or follow the relinquisher.
• Make available materials to gather health and medical information concerning the child and parents.
• Offer this information to the relinquisher;
• State that acceptance is voluntary and completion of the materials may be done anonymously.
• Immediately contact the local office of the Department for Community Based Services.
• Emergency Medical Services for Children Program shall develop guidelines and protocols for stabilization, treatment, and transportation regarding relinquished babies
Is the Safe Haven protected from liability for its actions?
• Yes: Immune from criminal or civil liability for acts in accordance with this chapter.
Rights of the Relinquishing Parent:
• Provide Information to Relinquisher:
• Emergency Medical Services for Children Program shall develop guidelines and protocols for providing voluntary information to parents.
• Cabinet shall make available standardized health, medical, and background information forms for use in gathering voluntary, no identifying information from relinquishers.
• Clearly, state on each page that the information requested is designed to facilitate medical care for the child.
• Include information on family services, termination of parental rights, and adoption.
• Include information on the importance of medical and health information regarding the child.
• Include written notification that failure to contact the Department for Community Based Services and assert a claim of parental rights within 30 days results in the commencement of proceedings for involuntary termination of parental rights and placement of the child for adoption.
Procedure to Reclaim Custody:
• If a claim of parental rights is made prior to the termination of parental rights, the case shall be remanded to the District Court, and an adjudicatory hearing shall be conducted within 10 days.
• Court may order genetic testing to establish maternity or paternity. Cabinet shall conduct a child protective services investigation or assessment and home evaluation."
Kentucky Safe Infants Act on August 27, 2002 takes in its first abandoned child. .... "Mason County, KY, Aug. 27 - A newborn baby is in safe hands after being abandoned to proper officials in Maysville. Under a new Kentucky law, mothers can give an unwanted newborn to hospital workers, police, firefighters or emergency medics without facing criminal charges. The emergency medical service provider is required to keep the identity of the person placing the newborn confidential. Moreover, indeed, state workers would only tell LEX 18 News that the child is healthy. However, the gender and identity of the baby will not be released.
"We're certainly not trying to be uptight bureaucrats...but this is a very fragile process," Mike Jennings, representative for the Cabinet for Families and Children, said Tuesday. According to the Cabinet, training began Tuesday in Bowling Green for the various agencies who can accept infants. Officials are hoping that training will be finished by this fall. The General Assembly's research staff found accounts of 38 abandoned babies, 16 of whom were found dead, from 1986 to 2000."
A major concern with the Safe Haven act, in all of the states that it applies, is that of simply getting the word out. Although it is too early to know if Safe haven laws will be effective in addressing mothers, abandoning their infants, we do know that one child has saftly been placed in Kentucky. No one can place a value on a human life not even the mother. This issue and some that have yet to be recognized will be up for discussion and social service personal will be needed to implicate these programs. Child welfare services will have a great deal to hypothesize and evaluate.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/dvs/mortdata.htm Mortality Data from the National Vital Statistics System U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics Division of Data Services, Hyattsville, MD 20782-2003 (301) 458-4636
Lexington, KY. LEX 18 NEWS John McGary/Associated Press http://www.msnbc.com/local/wlex/M219734.asp
U. S. Department Of Health And Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National center for Health Statistics, Division of Data Services http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/dvs/mortdata.htm
Copyright 2000, 2001, 2002 Safer Child, Inc. http://www.saferchild.org/Links
New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children, Inc.306 East State Street, Suite 220
Ithaca, NY 14850 607-272-0034