2007_01_babybasket.jpgThere's a sobering article in the NY Times about the effectiveness of "safe haven laws". Safe haven laws allow babies to be abandoned at police stations, fire houses, and hospitals with no questions asked, instead of unwanted babies being killed by parents who are scared and worried. In 2006, six dead babies were found due to abandonment, which is twice as many as last year; one of the more notable cases was the dead newborn found while recycling plant workers were sorting through items.

The NY Times reports that while NY State passed a a law to decriminalize the act of abandoning a baby, some critics believe the laws "fail to tackle the root causes of infanticide because they do not reach the women who need them most."

Panicked, alone and often in great pain, few mothers have the wherewithal in the crucial moments after birth to consider safely abandoning their babies, according to Michelle Oberman, a professor at Santa Clara University’s School of Law.

“Girls committing neonaticide are generally petrified about the idea of anybody finding out they were pregnant,” Professor Oberman said. “They’re pretty bad at planning. “Even if you’re a great planner, if you’ve just delivered a baby by yourself in the bathroom, with pain, blood loss and lots of terror, you’re not in the best shape to hop on a bus to drop the baby off.”

Though there is debate about the effectiveness, many hope that more education and awareness can be promoted at schools. Non-profit AMT Children of Hope was started to help pay for funerals of abandoned babies, but has evolved to work to encourage safe abandonment of babies. Its president Timothy Jaccard, who helped draft the NY State law, tells the Times, "We don’t want any woman to use the safe-haven law. It’s there as a last resort.”

In December, the baby found at the Queens recycling center was buried under the name "Farrington Marie Hope," amongst other abandoned babies also buried under the last name "Hope." And this past week, a Queens mother admitted to suffocating two weeks old baby, who she said was conceived during a rape.