Nebraska Safe Haven Law: Used Fairly or Not?
We all get frustrated at times with our children. It can be exhausting. It can push mothers and fathers to their limits. On the worst days, it can even make parents throw up their hands and teeter on giving up. But they don’t. Except when they do. Or perhaps– except when they can.
Given that November is Fairness month for Powerful Words, I’d like to propose a few thought-provoking fairness questions. You opinions are certainly appreciated.
The question is: Fair or Unfair?
A woman in Nebraska dropped her 18 year old “child” off at a hospital, BryanLGH Medical Center West, citing Nebraska’s newly enacted Safe Haven Law (in July), which states that a “child” can be dropped off at any licensed hopital without question or penalty. The law was enacted for the purposes of protecting newborn babies who were either unwanted or unable to be cared for by the birth parents.
The mother of the 18 year old relayed that she could no longer control the girl who is bipolar and has refused to take her medication. The Safe Haven Law does not specify the age of the “child” in question therefore it is not illegal to take advantage of the law in this way. However, is it fair?
This law has been used in creative ways since its enactment 4 months ago. In September, 3 Dads abandoned their children at two Omaha Hospitals. One father left 9 siblings between the ages of 1 and 17 years old.
“They were tired of their parenting role,” says Todd Landry of Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Most parents are citing behavioral problems rather than financial issues for the need to abandon.
“This was never the intent of the bill,” (Republican state Sen. Arnie Stuthman, cowriter of the bill).
In order to get support for the bill, the writers changed the wording to encapsulate all children.
“We really opened a can of worms,” he says. “We have a mess.” He says the law needs to be fixed.
A special meeting is planned on November 14th to assess the law again. Will their be an influx of abandoned defiant teens or challenging preteens in the mean time? There have already been 30 children and teens dropped off since the Safe Haven law was enacted in Nebraska. All 50 states have “safe haven” laws, but the others apply only to infants less than 1 year old.
So, what do you think– fair or unfair use of the law? Fair or unfair to the parents? To the children? To the state? Or is it an issue of a different kind all together? Please comment below.