Missouri Extends Safe Haven Laws And I Hope Other States Follow Their Lead

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baby in basketMotherhood can be a wonderful thing —  when you are prepared for it, both financially and emotionally. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. As we have seen with the recent story about Baby No. 59 in China and similar stories, when a mother is faced with a pregnancy she didn’t plan and a child she can’t care for, she can sometimes do desperate things. This is what makes Safe Haven laws so incredibly important.

Missouri is going to give new mothers more time to relinquish their newborns without fear of prosecution. Under the current laws, Missouri women have up to five days to leave their baby at a police station, fire station or hospital. The new law, which was recently approved, will extend that time frame to 45 days.

Ideally, of course, women who find themselves pregnant and don’t want to be would either have an abortion or put the child up for adoption. But due to certain circumstances this isn’t always feasible. And the situation will only get worse as our reproductive rights continue to be whittled away.

Senator Ryan Silvey, who sponsored the measure, says he is confident that Governor Jay Nixon will sign off on the bill. When he does, it will go into effect on August 28th, 2013. The new law also guarantees new parents anonymity and allows them to drop their child at a pregnancy resource center, which wasn’t allowed before.

Whatever your opinion is about a woman who would give up her child, it’s obvious that this option is much better than the alternative of leaving a child in a dumpster or in a toilet. And five days is just not enough time to be forced to make such a life- altering decision.

Since 2008 all US states have enacted some form of Safe Haven laws to protect infants from abandonment. Unfortunately many states still have strict time limits that may deter parents from participating and not all states protect the parent from prosecution. In order for these laws to be as effective as possible, this has to change.

(Photo: Dubova/ Shutterstock)