Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, February 22, 2010

Previous Nebraska Safe Haven Law Blunder

State safe haven laws allow parents to anonymously, and without penalty, abandon very young children at designated public locations for the purpose of adoption.  There are often certain limitations on this legalized form of parental abandonment: 1) the child must be below a certain age—e.g., Mont. Code Ann. § 40-6-417 (2007) (child must be under 30 days old when abandoned); Ind. Code § 31-9-2-0.5 (2007) (child must be under 12 months old)—and 2) the child must be left in a permissible public location—e.g., Ark. Code Ann. § 9-34-202 (2007) (child must be left at a medical provider or law enforcement agency); Minn. Stat. § 145.902(a) (2007) (child must be left at a licensed hospital).  Most states have enacted these safe haven laws to curb out-of-state transport and abandonment of children such that no one state is left with the region’s relinquished children. 

However, at one point, the Nebraska safe haven law had no age limitation on the abandoned child, so many parents drove their older and teenage children there for abandonment, causing a public uproar to change the law.  See here.  

Recently, Aaron Bruhl from PrawfsBlog offered an interesting legislative background on the Nebraska legal blunder—read it here.


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