Nebraska Worries about Parents Dropping Children at Hospitals

November 18, 2008
Sean Johnson

Nebraska’s safe haven law was "intended to allow parents to hand over an infant anonymously to a hospital without being prosecuted." However, of the 34 children who have been dropped off since the law has been enacted, none have been an infant.

Nebraska’s safe haven law was “intended to allow parents to hand over an infant anonymously to a hospital without being prosecuted.” However, of the 34 children who have been dropped off since the law has been enacted, none have been an infant. In fact, only six children have been older than 10 years old, says the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Parents have even traveled into Nebraska from Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Florida, and Georgia to drop off their child(ren).

Now, because of drawn out legislative procedures involved with changing the language of the law, it will take at least a week to implement any changes, allowing parents a window to “take advantage of a loophole in the statute.” The safe haven law was intended to protect infants and allow parents who feared that their children were in imminent danger to drop off their children without being charged for abandonment. The problem with Nebraska’s safe haven law is that there is no age limit. Lawmakers are calling for a limit to infants younger than three years old, but others are pushing for the limit to be closer to 30 days.

The Department of Health and Human Services has maintained background files on 30 of the 34 children that have been dropped off. The report states that 27 of those children have received mental health treatment; 28 have come from single-parent homes; and 22 had a parent with a history of incarceration.

Related News:

Girl Runs during Safe Haven Attempt

Two Children Left At Hospitals under 'Safe Haven' Law

More Resources:

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant Safe Haven Laws: Summary of State Laws