Las Vegas Sun

September 18, 2014

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If mothers want to surrender their babies, is that so bad?

A healthy 22-day-old baby arrived at St. Rose Dominican Hospital last week. The mother didn’t want it. Yes, it’s a sad story—but it’s not tragic. Consider the alternative …

In May 2001, a Las Vegas maintenance worker found an unwanted baby in an apartment complex trash can. A year before that, a baby was found at Nellis Air Force Base, tied in a plastic bag. A couple years before that, a local high school student got in her car and ran over her baby’s head. Twice.

So, in late 2001, Nevada passed the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act. The law allows you to surrender your infant to the state with no fear of arrest or criminal prosecution. You don’t have to show any identification or explain your actions. No paperwork, no nothing. Just show up with your baby. Hence the slogan: “No shame. No blame. No names.”

The law says you can surrender the baby to a hospital, a fire station or a police station. Or you can just call 911 and have an ambulance pick your baby up, after which it will be placed in a foster home.

If you later change your mind, a social worker will assist you in scheduling a court hearing. You’ll have an uphill battle—you’ll have to demonstrate that granting you custody would be in the baby’s best interest—but you’re guaranteed the opportunity to at least state your case.

In the 11 years since Safe Haven was passed, last week marked just the second time a Clark County parent has taken advantage of the law. We’ll never know who the woman is, or why she did what she did, but we do know one thing for sure: This could have gone down a whole lot worse.

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