Those who care about mothers, fathers and infants should spread the word about a Colorado law that saves lives. It’s called the Colorado Safe Haven law, and it’s among the more important statues on the books.
We are reminded of safe haven laws this week because a local teenager on Wednesday reportedly abandoned her newborn baby near a Dumpster. The baby is fine, and we should pray for her and the parents.
However this case plays out, it’s an all-too-familiar story of a young woman facing terrifying circumstances. It’s the case of a girl giving birth to a baby she cannot possibly provide for. It’s the plight of a young mother fearing what society might do to her for getting pregnant at a young age, outside of marriage.
Even some adults go through life woefully ignorant of state, federal and local laws. So, it is easy to understand how a pregnant teenager knew nothing of our state’s safe haven law — as the young mother in question has claimed.
Since the year 2000, Colorado law has allowed any parent to hand over a child, up to 3 days old, to any employee of a fire station or hospital. The law forbids employees at hospitals and fire stations from asking questions of a parent relinquishing a child. The recipient may not demand a name, identification, or anything that might facilitate retaliation. The law protects the parent or parents from prosecution for abandonment.
Most states have wisely adopted safe haven laws, also known as “Baby Moses laws,” because they save lives. These laws give desperate parents, with unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancies an alternative to abortion, murder or unsafe abandonment. Instead of babies in garbage cans, we end up with babies in the hands of doctors, nurses and firefighters who know what to do.
In Colorado, at least 35 babies have been safely surrendered to responsible adults. God only knows how many might be dead if it were not for this law.
Young people who get pregnant need not suffer. Their babies don’t need only the prospects of poverty, abandonment or death. We are a civilized society with a compassionate law that places the sanctity of life, and the dignity of young people who make bad choices, above the desire to punish.
Unless the law is widely understood, babies are likely to die. Those of us who know about the law must speak to teenagers and young adults. Tell them to avoid unwanted pregnancies, but make sure they know about our safe haven law. Teach it in our schools, in conversations and on social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Let’s make certain that no one ever sees the need to kill or endanger another precious Colorado child.