News and Announcements — 30 June 2008

A Times Editorial


 A newborn found barely alive inside a black garbage bag outside a Tampa apartment trash bin was the impetus for the law. Two local legislators at the time, Sandy Murman and John Grant, said they wanted to encourage desperate mothers "to please take a few extra steps and put the baby in the loving arms of someone."

 Eight years later, 100 babies now have found those loving arms. They have been dropped off, no questions asked, at fire stations and hospitals across the state under the "safe haven" law that Murman and Grant sponsored in 2000. They have found adoptive parents such as Lori Lewis, who was unable to conceive and is still grateful to the mother who left her baby girl at a Broward County fire station five years ago: "I thank her every day for the choice she made; we’ve just so enjoyed raising her."

 Child welfare advocates say the law is still not as well known as it should be, and some 39 newborns have been abandoned over the same period of time that 100 of them were brought to safety. But the message continues to get out, thanks in part to the heroic work of a volunteer organization called A Safe Haven for Newborns, and lawmakers recently extended the dropoff period to seven days following birth.

 The safe haven law is, of course, an imperfect and incomplete response to the social circumstances that lead any young woman to abandon her baby. But it is without question saving lives, which makes this century milestone worth quiet celebration.

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