A law to save a life
May 29, 2002
It’s impossible to get into the mind of a woman who would leave her newborn baby for strangers to find.
We might guess at the circumstances, and we might assume the woman is at wit’s end. But we can’t understand the reasoning that ends up with a tiny child being abandoned, especially when Nevada — and most other states — provides other options.
In Fallon last week, members of a church youth group discovered a newborn in a cardboard box left outside at night about 80 feet from the front door of the church.
Surely a small miracle happened, because the baby survived — despite being left out of the way in a place where medical assistance wasn’t particularly handy.
Nevada’s safe-haven law allows mothers to leave unwanted newborns in places such as hospitals and police and fire stations, where medical attention is readily available. The whole idea is to save the baby’s life.
Word has to spread that this option is available. It’s apparent from the Fallon incident the mother was showing some effort to see the baby fell into the right hands, but the effort was barely enough. A church, while it is many things, is not a hospital.
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In another recent case, a newborn was found dead in a bathroom at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. The mother, a Stockton, Calif., high-school senior, has been arrested, but it’s not known if she will face a homicide charge until an autopsy determines when and how the baby died.
Desperate, confused, perhaps ashamed, these mothers must be aware there are ways for the situation to have a satisfactory conclusion — not happy, but not tragic, either.
We certainly can’t condone abandoning a baby, but there are better places than outside a church or inside a casino.
Perhaps the only good that can come of such incidents is that more people will learn about the law saying a baby may be abandoned at a hospital or police station with no questions asked.
We’ll always have questions, of course. But the only important one, at that point, will be “Is the baby all right?”
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