Editorial - A law that screams for more attentionA life was saved in Fergus Falls on Monday. You might not have heard about it. It didn’t get a lot of fanfare. Although Fergus isn’t in our coverage area, the story is well worth repeating and taking a few minutes to ponder.
A life was saved in Fergus Falls on Monday.
You might not have heard about it. It didn’t get a lot of fanfare. Although Fergus isn’t in our coverage area, the story is well worth repeating and taking a few minutes to ponder.
Here’s what happened: An unknown woman dropped off an infant at the Lake Region Hospital. The baby was believed to have been born earlier that same day. Otter Tail County authorities are now finding a good home for the boy.
Whoever gave birth to the baby could have made a different choice – killing the child or abandoning it in some unsafe place like a dumpster or an alley. When that happens, the story is huge news – a tragedy that screams for big headlines and lead broadcast status, perhaps because it provokes so much outrage, shock and anger.
But happier endings need to get attention too, especially in this case. That’s because the woman who left the baby in caring hands apparently knew about Minnesota’s Safe Haven Law, which gives mothers the legal option of giving up unwanted newborns to someone who will care for them.
The Safe Haven Law deserves everyone’s full attention – not just mothers-to-be but also fathers, parents of teenage sons and daughters, friends and family members and others in the circle of people who know someone confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. In short, entire communities.
The Safe Haven Law – in effect for nearly nine years in Minnesota – should be common knowledge. Unfortunately, not enough teens know about it. If they had, certain tragedies might have been avoided, such as the case of an Oakville teen who gave birth at home and then stabbed the infant more than 100 times before disposing of the baby in a garbage can.
Maybe people don’t try to absorb how important this law is because they think it’s too complicated. In reality, it’s shockingly simple. The law allows any woman to drop off her newborn child at any hospital in the state (including our own Douglas County Hospital) within 72 hours of the child’s birth. Hospital personnel may not ask any questions about who the mother is or why she is giving up the child. No one will try to track the woman down.
The only requirements are that the baby is healthy and no more than 3 days old.
This is a law that needs to be talked about more – within families, classrooms and the community.
Simply talking about it, spreading awareness, could flip a light switch in a troubled young mother-to-be’s mind and make her realize a new option to her pregnancy – one that offers a safe haven for both her and her newborn.