Nebraska’s Safe Haven law: Parents, not the state, need to provide a safe haven for children

By Mallorie Leal Posted December 17, 2008

Babies cry; toddlers throw tantrums, and teenagers just don’t care. These are just a few of the things a person can expect when having a child.

These days it is increasingly common for a woman to become pregnant who can’t care for or does not want her child. Women in these situations often resort to an alternative. Some women get an abortion while others give the child up for adoption.

Yet even with these safe and legal ways of taking care of a pregnancy, some women still choose to abandon their children. Just imagine finding an infant left in a trash can or in a field. Even worse, imagine that you’re the infant. You’ve been left out in the cold, not knowing what’s going on and the one person who should love you the most has gone because she was willing to leave you to fend for yourself. Some states have found their abandonment problem to be out of control and have decided to try and eliminate the danger to these infants.

Nebraska was one of the last states to adopt a Safe Haven law. Safe Haven laws allow parents to leave their child at games as a practice for a hospital, police station, or fire department without getting in legal trouble.

Nebraska went above and beyond with this new law, by including all children under the age of eighteen instead of establishing an age limit for the child. This seemed like a good idea until parents started leaving older kids.

An infant that is under a year old doesn’t understand the dangers of the world and wouldn’t understand they are being abandoned. A sixteen-year-old, however, comprehends the meaning of being abandoned. A parent leaving an older child under the Safe Haven law is not leaving the child because the parent is unable to take care of it, it’s pure and simple disregard. Parents should not raise a child and then just decide that all of a sudden they don’t want to be a parent or they can’t handle it.

Nebraska recently changed its law to restrict the age limit to an infant up to thirty days old. This improvement to the Safe Haven law should help restore order and will help parents realize not to wait until it’s too late. Women who become pregnant should take responsibility for their actions and deal with their unwanted pregnancy in a responsible and healthy way. Children should never be abandoned and mothers should never have to make that decision.

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