PILOT EDITORIAL - 'Safe Haven' is a sad necessity

Thursday, March 22, 2001

The Iowa Legislature is poised this week to adopt a "Safe Haven" bill, which is an ugly bit of work that is, sadly, necessary.

The law states, basically, that a parent who doesn't want a newborn child can simply dump them on the doorstep of a hospital or nursing home (since they are staffed 24 hours) and walk away with no worries of criminal charges as long as the child has not been physically abused.

The window of opportunity for child abandonment is 14 days of age, after some debate between different House and Senate versions.

It seems shocking, on its face, that state lawmakers would all but encourage parents to abandon their responsibilities and leave children like unwanted sacks of trash at the nearest hospital lobby.

What is shocking is that it has come to this. The alternative is children thrown in ditches or dumpsters.

Had someone taken Shelby Duis, the child referred to in the editorial above, out of a dangerous situation when the chance arose, she would be alive today.

Is it better for a child to be in a basket, abandoned at a health facility doorstep, than to be doomed to be raised unwanted, neglected and very possibly abused in a home by parents who didn't want the child to start with, and aren't capable of parenting?

God help us, yes.

In such a case, it is best for the child to get medical attention, and then love in the foster care/adoption system. Give them a chance with someone who wants them.

There are better ways for shaky parents to get their newborns into safe hands, but a recent infant death case in Chelsea shows that some are incapable of mustering even that much love and reason.