Saturday, July 29, 2006

Abandoned Babies and Daniel’s Law

The state of South Carolina passed a law in 2000 known as Daniel’s Law.

This law provides that a mother, or a person designated by her, can leave her baby without fear of prosecution with someone at a hospital, church, synagogue, fire department or outpatient medical facility.

Daniel's Law is intended to save babies. It is not intended to hurt or punish anyone. It provides a safe option for mother and baby.

A person who abandons a newborn cannot be prosecuted for abandonment if he or she takes the unharmed baby to an employee at a hospital or hospital outpatient facility.The law applies to infants up to 30 days old.The person leaving the child does not have to reveal his or her identity.The person leaving the child will be asked to provide medical information about the baby's parents, and if possible the name of the baby's parents. This will help the medical personnel treat the baby for any health problems.The hospital will provide medical care and contact DSS.DSS will have legal custody of the child.

Last month, a woman in South Carolina took a newborn child to a medical center and handed him over to a nurse there. She informed the nurse that the baby belonged to a friend of hers who asked her to do this. The friend provided the nurse with the mothers’ name.

Several days later, when the results of a blood test came back positive for both marijuana and cocaine, the mother was arrested and charged with unlawful child neglect.

Now I HATE what this mother put her baby through by abusing drugs while she was pregnant. I abhor it. I am a former foster parent and I KNOW how these babies suffer from withdrawal, however, what did this teach other young mothers-to-be out there??? To what fate did we subject newborns in the future? Now instead of being taken and given up to a facility where the baby will be safe and warm and taken care of and loved, we will continue to find them in dumpsters and ponds and other places where desperate “mothers” decide to “throw them away” because they are fearful of jail. They will suffer and live their few hours on this earth alone, hungry and cold.

I do not pretend to know all the answers, but am I the only person who thinks we just defeated the ENTIRE FRIGGING PURPOSE of this law!?!?!


That Girl said...

Prosecuters are stupid.

Flea said...

Sounds like the law was badly written.

If the mother was meant to be allowed to walk away and disappear, the phrase "unharmed" would have been left out.

Instead, South Carolina decided that child abuse (in the form of exposure of the child to harmful drugs in utero) will be deemed a crime.

Rather than render my opinion as to the merits of the law itself, and taking your paraphrase of the law to be accurate, I will disagree respectfully with you and state that South Carolina did the will of the people in this case.



Surgeon in my dreams said...


I see your point, and understand what you are saying. I appreciate your response. I truly want to know how others view this because it has just "eaten me alive" since it happened.

I agree that abusing drugs while pregnant is child abuse.

I just feel as if there will be babies who suffer and die alone who might have otherwise been saved had this arrest not happened.

She could have not given a name and she would have gotten away, but will the next woman think of that?

Like I said, I have dealt with these babies through the foster care system and I know how they suffer for the first few days. I detest the women who cannot think beyond their own addiction far enough to protect their babies, but if it would keep the babies from being abandoned someplace where they will die alone, then let one druggie get away with not being prosecuted.

If the law was indeed put in place to protect babies from being "thrown out like so much trash", then at someone point the proverbial "they" must decide what is more important.

An all around horrible situation for everyone but most of all for the innocents.

Surgeon In My Dreams

filmwidow said...

I agree with Flea. South Carolina deemed that child abuse was a crime. The law would better benefit abandoned children if it were more like the Safe Haven law we have in California. No questions are asked when a baby is dropped off at a Safe Haven (hospital, fire or police stations, etc.).

neonataldoc said...

Wow. Interesting story. We have a similar law in my state, although I don't think questions are asked. I don't really agree with criminal prosecution of drug using mothers. It just encourages them to stay away from prenatal care (or postnatal care in this case), which doesn't benefit anyone. Sigh.

Nice blog!

Judy said...

My state has the same sort of law. I've heard, from unreliable sources, that nobody has handed over a baby yet. Infant corpses are periodically found in trash cans. Sad.

I've always said that the ideal way to abandon a newborn would be to present late in labor at a hospital not too near your home under a false name and simply walk out after delivering.

Wasn't at my hospital, but someone did precisely that in a nearby town a few years ago.