"Safe haven" laws were designed to allow parents to drop off their unwanted infants at safe places, like fire stations or hospitals, in an effort to keep panicked mothers from just dumping their babies, period. That, or perhaps killing them outright.
THE 49 OTHER STATES passing such laws before Nebraska put age limits on children falling under their "no questions asked" drop-off provisions. For arcane reasons -- most of them aimed at getting around the objections of a single state senator -- our law didn't include an age limit.
No one thought that would be a big problem. It was, leading to an unending stream of stories in the Omaha World-Herald about parents dumping children who definitely were not newborns.
And today . . . this:
Child drop-offs under Nebraska's safe haven law have until now been individual affairs involving individual children.A FATHER. Abandoning his nine children. At a hospital.
But Wednesday evening at Creighton University Medical Center, a father dropped off nine children, all his.
The children ranged in age from 1 to 17 years, said Officer Michael Pecha, an Omaha police spokesman.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services was still gathering details late Wednesday and would not comment, department spokeswoman Kathie Osterman said.
She did clarify, however, the process by which children are handled once dropped off:
When a child is left, hospital staffers call local law enforcement. Police in most cases would place a child or children in emergency protective custody.
The county attorney recommends whether a child should remain in state custody or return home, and a judge ultimately decides on placement.
In the week-and-a-half before Wednesday, at least two teens and one preteen had been dropped off at eastern Nebraska hospitals.
The safe haven law was intended to protect unwanted newborns, but Nebraska's law does not set an age limit on children who can be left at hospitals. Many have interpreted that to mean children up to age 19 can be dropped off.
Something is afoot out there. Parents are desperate, and children are expendable.
Children now are just another throwaway item in this age of "choice" -- as in "You get to choose your own reality" and "You get to choose whether your unborn baby lives or dies."
Kids . . . be good, eat your vegetables and don't piss off Mama or Daddy. It's important.