Family and Relationships


Critics' Fears Over Nebraska Safe Haven Law Realized

September 16, 2008 11:40 AM
by Emily Coakley

A preteen and a teenager are the first dropped off under a new state law that is intended for newborns.


The first children to be affected by Nebraska’s safe haven law are age 15 and 11, reports Omaha's Action 3 News. The children were left Sept. 13 at hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha.

Earlier this summer, Nebraska’s safe haven law took effect. Although every other state’s statute applies to infants, Nebraska’s could allow parents to abandon children up to age 19, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Safe haven laws give parents the legal ability to transfer custody of a child to the state. They exist generally to provide parents with an alternative to aborting, or harmfully discarding children.

“All children deserve our protection,” Nebraska State Sen. Tom White told the Associated Press in August. “If we save one child from being abused, it’s well, well worth it.”

One critic of the law, Adam Pertman, told the AP in August: “Whether the kid is disabled or unruly or just being a hormonal teenager, the state is saying: ‘Hey, we have a really easy option for you.’”
Action 3 reported that not much information was released about the 11-year-old, but a parent dropped him off. The 15-year-old’s mother is dead and father isn’t around. The boy’s guardian and aunt couldn’t deal with his “behavioral problems.” 

Because of the law, the parents and guardian won't be charged.
Another state senator who advocated for the law, Rich Pahls, had this reaction to the situation: “It tells me that there are some parents or guardians out there that need some help. If you look at the larger picture we need to take a look at mental health.”
Pahls and another senator said if more adolescents and older children are affected, they’ll try to alter the law so it only applies to infants.

Perspectives on ‘baby dumping’

A blogger known as Kite Kamp Girl describes herself as an adoptee. She said she feels for the boys. 


“This is horrible. Shame on Nebraska lawmakers. Instead of safe havening of these kids, why wasn't there better options for these parents and guardians? Oh that is right. We can't have anyone taking advantage of the system.”


Before the law took effect, others had criticized it.

The Daily Bastardette said, “no fault baby dumping = the new adoption,” and encouraged everyone to take advantage of the law.

“President Grant once said ‘the best way to get rid of a bad law is to enforce it.’ With this is mind I offer an open invitation to all frustrated, tired, angry disgusted parents, wherever you are: take your unpleasant child in hand, hop in your car or on Greyhound (or a plane if TSA will let the delinquent through), and head for America’s heartland. Make Nebraska the child dump capital of America,” she wrote.

Michael Barrett, writing as Slobokan on Slobokan’s Site O’ Schtuff, said parents had a way out

“Gone are the days of ‘doing the responsible thing,’ or living up to the expectations of society. Society (in Nebraska anyway) no longer requires you to fulfill your obligation as a parent,” Barrett wrote.

At the blog Bad Breeders, Trench Reynolds said the Nebraska law was the “most vague” of the widely varying state laws.

“There needs to be a federally uniform safe haven law since the states can’t seem to get it together and for the most part have not prevented baby dumpings,” Reynolds wrote.

A group called Bastard Nation argues that safe haven laws, while trying to protect babies from being abandoned and possibly killed, “strip the infant of all genetic, medical and social history.” That’s just one problem the group cites with safe haven laws, which they say are unnecessary. Bastard Nation is an “organization dedicated to the equal treatment and dignity of all adopted citizens.”

Reference: Other safe haven laws; parenting help


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