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This past weekend an infant was left  at  my  rectory doors of my  Parish. My Pastor opened his door to a parishioner who directed his attention to a moving bag. Upon investigating the moving bag he found a new born infant inside. The umbilical cord was still attached.  Her name is Mariah and she is well.  It was the quick thinking of that young mother to give her child away to some place safe. There are ways to do this. The law that protects a woman wishing to do this is called “The Safe Haven Law”.

Safe Haven Laws allow a parent to anonymously leave an unwanted newborn baby in a safe place, such as a hospital, emergency medical services, police station, or fire station, or church and not have to worry about getting in trouble. The baby will then be given to the state’s child welfare department. Increased publicity, so that people actually know this option is available, may help to make sure that unwanted babies are left in a safe place and not abandoned where they may not be found until it is too late.

There have been strange cases where the law was taken advantage of.  Nebraska’s safe haven law has received the most publicity out of all safe haven programs; however, it is not because of all of the babies they were saving. Nebraska’s safe haven law did not specify an age limit for which children could be dropped off, which resulted in 35 children being left for safe haven protection, most kids over age 10. Nebraska’s safe haven law has since been revised to place an age limitation to protect only newborns, so that children over age 30 days old can not be dropped off. Many infants that have been abandoned in dumpsters or public restrooms have died from exposure to the elements, starvation or dehydration. The very first law ever created was called the Moses law.  It was an appropriate title considering that he was the very first child left for safety reasons.

Now nationwide, all 50 states have safe haven laws, with Alaska and Nebraska enacting their own safe haven laws in 2008. You should look at your own state’s Safe Haven Law for more details, as they do vary from state to state. In many cases it seems as if they don’t seem to be having much of an impact on babies being abandoned in unsafe places. Safe Haven Laws as of late are not very well publicized and few people, especially the very young mothers who typically abandon babies, seem to know about them.

If you know someone  who needs this information pass it along. Information is  the strongest weapon any of us have. We can save a generation.

Mariah’s  mom wherever you are we are thinking of you. Your baby is safe.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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