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Nebraska Lawmakers Re-Examine Child "Safe Haven" Law

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By Admin on November 17, 2008 9:42 AM

Lawmakers in Nebraska are looking at ways to revise the state's controversial "safe-haven" law, under which parents can drop their children at local hospitals without facing prosecution for child abandonment. Some parents -- coming to the state from as far away as Florida -- appear to be using the law's "no questions asked" protections in unintended ways.

Members of the Nebraska Legislature met on Friday for a special session to discuss revisions to LB 157, the so-called "safe-haven" law which "allows parents to surrender their children at hospitals without fear of prosecution for abandonment," according to the Nebraska Legislature. The problem is that the law as currently written contains no age limitation for dropped-off children, and some parents have dropped off kids as old as 17. As the Washington Post reports, "When Nebraska legislators passed a bill creating a safe haven to help overwhelmed parents and guardians, they were thinking of babies and toddlers who had been abandoned by young mothers. Instead, 35 children -- typically adolescents -- have been dropped at the hospital door, most recently a 5-year-old boy on Thursday night."

The Lincoln (NE) JournalStar reports that Speaker Mike Flood "introduced a bill Friday in a special session that would limit the age of children covered by Nebraska's safe haven law to 72 hours," but that "there appears to be little agreement on whether that is the right age."