Nebraska Legislature to Amend Safe Haven Law

The Nebraska Legislature will amend the state’s unique safe haven law so that it applies only to newborns up to three days old, the governor and legislative leaders said today.

“This law has had serious, unintended consequences,” Gov. Dave Heineman said. “This law needs to be changed to focus on infants.”

A majority of state senators have agreed to amend the law to apply it only to infants up to three days old, Heineman told a press conference.

The change would be made either at the beginning of the 2009 legislative session or during a special session before then, should one be called, the governor said.

Legislative Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk said he has been discussing the issue with lawmakers.

“I have spoken personally with nearly every sitting senator. Forty of the 49 state senators I have spoken with” are ready to amend the law, Flood said.

Heineman said he also wanted to encourage families with problems to seek help. He said state officials also would be working on a public awareness campaign to make Nebraskans more aware of resources available to help them.

Since the beginning of September, 19 children have been dropped off — most at hospitals and one at a police station — by people wishing to use the safe haven law.

Nebraska’s safe haven law, which took effect in July, has no age limit on the children who can be dropped off by parents. Other states use such laws to protect infants.

Most of the children dropped off in Nebraska have been teens and preteens. Two were from other states.

via Bellevue LeaderNebraska Legislature will amend safe haven law

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