ABANDONED BABIES: Two Bills Would Legalize ‘Safe’ Abandonment
Two new bills hoping to curb the number of abandoned babies "stuffed in trash bins, dropped in toilets, dumped in flower beds and in ditches ... tossed out windows [and] shoved down storm sewers" offer women who "cannot or will not care for their babies the anonymity to do the right thing," Sacramento Bee columnist Marjie Lundstrom writes. The measures, introduced yesterday by state Sen. James Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga) and Assemblyman Ken Maddox (R-Garden Grove), would give "desperate parents a safe option" by allowing them to drop off their unwanted babies within 30 days of birth at emergency facilities, such as hospitals and fire stations, without fear of prosecution for abandonment. The bills would establish a "no questions asked" policy, and, assuming the baby is unharmed, "no prosecution." The idea of "legalized abandonment" has gained national popularity due to a "groundbreaking" program in Mobile, Ala., that has saved the lives of four babies in the past 14 months. "The point of this kind of law [is] overcoming fear. ... There is more work to do, especially around education. But at its heart this is a simple idea, and simple ideas have a way of working," Lundstrom argues. But not all agree, including Debbie Magnusen, founder and director of Project Cuddle, a Costa Mesa group that counsels mothers considering abandonment. Despite a similar law in Houston, that city has witnessed a "mysterious rash" of baby abandonments -- 13 in 10 months, including two since the law took effect in September -- she said. Magnusen is "skeptical [that] these kinds of laws will ever touch the women most in need -- women already distrustful of the system" (1/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.