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Massachusetts gets one right

I spend a lot -- a LOT of time bashing Massachusetts, (and rightfully so), but every now and then I see them doing something right, and I feel obligated to point that out.

In the past few years, there have been a spate of abandoned-baby horror stories. Dead newborns left in airport toilets, allegedly tossed from cars, in hotel dumpsters -- it's almost beyond belief as teenage girls get themselves pregnant (I refuse to use the term "find themselves pregnant" -- I "find myself" a little grayer and a little balder each morning; one has to put forth some deliberate effort to get pregnant), keep it secret for the full term, then "get rid" of the baby.

A lot of states, including Massachusetts, have passed "safe haven" laws in response. Under that law, a woman can take her less-than-week-old baby to certain places -- police stations, fire stations, and hospitals are the most common designated places -- and simply leave her baby. The state agrees to take the baby and place it with foster homes, and there are no legal repercussions for the mother.

Recently, Massachusetts' law underwent its first test. A young woman called the state's toll-free hotline, asked a bunch of questions, then turned in her baby at a Lowell hospital and left.

And one more baby is now with delighted foster parents who want to adopt, and not waiting to be discovered in a dumpster.

No, it's not an ideal situation. But to me, it's the least worst solution to a terrible problem. I'm glad Cow Hampshire is one of the 47 states that have such a law.

J.


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Comments (16)

Sounds sensible to me, Jay,... (Below threshold)

Sounds sensible to me, Jay, but it begs the question: Which three states DON'T have something like this on the books?

Sounds like a few letters to local politicians in those states might be in order. The pols get to have press conferences to talk about how great they are for passing legislation like this, and babies don't have to end up dead. I call that a win-win situation...

If a slightly expanded vers... (Below threshold)
Retread:

If a slightly expanded version of this law was in effect maybe Susan Smith would not have driven her kids into that lake, or the Texas woman murdered her kids. That mothers have a place they can leave their kids instead of killing them, seems like a no-brainer. I'd sooner pay taxes for these kinds of services than some of the more lunatic things tax dollars go for now.

I agree, it is a solution t... (Below threshold)

I agree, it is a solution to a terrible problem. The problem being one of education. Teaching people to be responsible for their actions. To learn the meaning of commitment.

Um, unless she's a Raelian,... (Below threshold)
Spex:

Um, unless she's a Raelian, I doubt any girl "gets herself pregnant." I don't know what your conflict with 'finds herself pregnant" would be. Most girls -- and their boyfriends -- aren't really considering the possible consequences. Safe Haven laws are great BECAUSE of that, when the possible consequences become reality.

ever heard of date rape, st... (Below threshold)
nnn:

ever heard of date rape, statutory rape and incest?!?

>>>it's almost beyond belief as teenage girls get themselves pregnant (I refuse to use the term "find themselves pregnant" -- I "find myself" a little grayer and a little balder each morning; one has to put forth some deliberate effort to get pregnant), keep it secret for the full term, then "get rid" of the baby.

There are actually four sta... (Below threshold)

There are actually four states that do not have Baby Safe Haven laws on their books. They are Nebraska, Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont. All but Alaska have bills before their legislatures at this point.
Only the Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, has vetoed a Baby Safe Haven bill, and she did so due to some very bad advice from a tiny group of opposers to these laws. They feel the "rights" of potential adoptees to their medical heritages and family histories is far more important then the very lives of the child in the first place.
We in Massachusetts are actually the last state to pass a Baby Safe Haven law, the 46th, due to the very improper advocacy against the bills before the legislature to took four and a half years to pass. During that exact same time period 13 babies were abandoned, 6 died,4 came within minutes of death due to exposure or other hazards, three were surrendered under circumstances similar to Baby Safe Haven laws -- including one that was brought over the CT border by a couple following their law and going to the nearest hospital in order to get medical help for a 3 1/2 pound preemie.
Baby Safe Haven laws work, nationally over 300 times in the states that have passed them, and thankfully now in Massachusetts.
Write to any legislators in the states that don't have them, or Governor Lingle in HI, it could always help.

Texas was the first state t... (Below threshold)
julie:

Texas was the first state to pass the law back in 1999 when . . .who was govenor back then????

I worked at Thunderbird Med... (Below threshold)
Rich:

I worked at Thunderbird Medical Center when they put in the baby drawer. It was in a section of the E.R. and if someone came up to the hospital from outside they could open the drawer and place the baby in it,close it and leave anonymously. Closing the drawer again set off an alarm and everyone would come see the new baby. I was there when the first one happened. I think it was the second in the state of Az. Now if I could just get Alaska to do it.

Rich, wow, what a story. I... (Below threshold)

Rich, wow, what a story. I think it is an excellent law, but it needs to be put on PSA's or something, because we still have girls leaving babies places to die and when asked why they didn't leave it at the hospital, they say they didn't know about the law. So we need to get the message out there on the channels teens watch.

No, it's not an ideal si... (Below threshold)
julie:

No, it's not an ideal situation.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, Jay. If there weren't unwanted pregnancies, there wouldn't be adoptable kids for those who want them and can't have them.

RWS: You're right. I forgot to mention that. They need to spend some/more money publicizing this. Especially, at schools.

I think the law is fabulous... (Below threshold)
c.garbin:

I think the law is fabulous, but we really need something to cover more than the first 7 to 30 days of a childs life. I think there are alot of women who probably don't immediately realize that they are not capable of being mothers, and alot of children who could be saved from their dire needs of food shelter and love. Why is a 2 year old not as precious as a newborn?

Rightwingsparkle, Th... (Below threshold)

Rightwingsparkle,
They have been playing radio ads here in Boston for a couple months now about it.

Add Michigan to the list al... (Below threshold)
Chris Van Dis:

Add Michigan to the list also, we have had a law similar to this in effect for a few years already.

Rightwingsparkle & BEHUMP:... (Below threshold)
julie:

Rightwingsparkle & BEHUMP: How about ads in city buses? Taught in high school health/gym classes?

Yes, Jay, you beat up and b... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Yes, Jay, you beat up and bash Massachusetts too much and as I said earlier, it's getting tiring. There's nothing great about COW HAMPSHIRE either. If 47 states have this unwanted baby law in place, most of them aren't using it and the mother's of these babies in these other 47 states aren't aware of it. I certainly wasn't. All you're reading is Mass papers, so ONE mother did the right thing by turning in her unwanted baby and you just happened along the story. You would not have written about it if it happened here in NH or our surrounding states or any of the 47 states where young mothers are unaware of this option. So you see one story and it happened in Lowell, MA and finally you give THEM some credit. Do me a favor.....and I dare you on this one - check out the other 47 states and then let us know how many women/girls, whatever, know about this option and turned in their babies vs how many babies were found in trash cans (so to speak) so you can see that MA isn't the only state. Your readers want to know. :-)

Cindy

Yes, Jay, you beat up and b... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Yes, Jay, you beat up and bash Massachusetts too much and as I said earlier, it's getting tiring. There's nothing great about COW HAMPSHIRE either. If 47 states have this unwanted baby law in place, most of them aren't using it and the mother's of these babies in these other 47 states aren't aware of it. I certainly wasn't. All you're reading is Mass papers, so ONE mother did the right thing by turning in her unwanted baby and you just happened along the story. You would not have written about it if it happened here in NH or our surrounding states or any of the 47 states where young mothers are unaware of this option. So you see one story and it happened in Lowell, MA and finally you give THEM some credit. Do me a favor.....and I dare you on this one - check out the other 47 states and then let us know how many women/girls, whatever, know about this option and turned in their babies vs how many babies were found in trash cans (so to speak) so you can see that MA isn't the only state. Your readers want to know. :-)

Cindy




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