Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Safe Haven Expansion
Yesterday morning in a suburb of Chicago, a 2 week old, Hispanic baby girl was bundled up, placed in a carrier and LEFT ON A GARBAGE PILE. A man looking for salvageable stuff found her at about 8am yesterday. No thanks to her parents, she's in good health and has been handed over to DCFS. Why go through all the trouble of dressing, bundling, covering with a blanket... only to leave your child in the garbage?
For the past week I've been researching whether to increase the legal age of relinquishment in Illinois from 7 days up to 30 days. At first I thought that doing so wouldn't change anything, because we still have women who abandon babies because they either don't know about the law, or are afraid to test it out. So how will increasing the age change the fact that some women are still too afraid to GO INTO a safe haven? I'll admit that I just don't know. If the law was different, would this woman have taken her baby to a safe haven instead of leaving her in the trash? No way to know. FYI, the current law only covers babies 7 days or younger. This woman would not have been covered by the Safe Haven Law if she had walked into a hospital and said, "I can't keep the baby." She'd have been directed to a crisis center, if she's lucky, or given a list of adoption agencies and told to go about her business.
What I DO know is that if we increase the age to 30 days, it will bring some much needed attention to this law, which was meant to save lives. As always, if even one life is saved by this law, isn't it worth it? If just one child is safely relinquished instead of abandoned or neglected, isn't that what matters? Don't frightened pregnant women need more options when they WANT to be responsible? When they can't keep their child, but want to keep them SAFE?
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