Friday, November 14, 2008

Recent Scholarship on Safe Haven Laws

Recent articles addressing Safe Haven laws include:

Carol Sanger, Infant Safe Haven Laws: Legislating In The Culture Of Life, 106 Colum. L. Rev. 753 (2006) available on SSRN

A comprehensive article that addresses safe haven in a larger context of history and politics. Professor Carol Sanger examines the problem of infant abandonment in light of history and research on the characteristics of women who abandon or kill their newborns. She concludes that Safe Haven laws are unlikely to be effective in deterring these mothers. She then examines the enactment of this legislation as part of a larger political culture and suggests that “there is a snug and interesting fit between Safe Haven legislation and a culture whose politics are increasingly organized around the protection of unborn life.” She argues that Safe Haven laws have powerful social and cultural effects: shaping “social understandings of women as untrustworthy persons” and providing additional reinforcement for the “culture of life.” Professor Sanger examines more closely the “culture of life” in this context, raising the “possibility of a dismal feedback loop between the culture of life and the problem of infant abandonment” as young pregnant women “become immobilized in a dilemma where both pregnancy and abortion have become impossible choices.”

Jeffrey A. Parness & Therese A. Clarke Arado, Safe Haven, Adoption And Birth Record Laws: Where Are The Daddies? 36 Cap. U.L. Rev. 207 (2007).  Available on SSRN

Professors Jeffrey Parness and Terese Arado presented this article as part of the Capital University Law School's annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law. The article briefly reviews safe haven laws and argues that, under these laws, paternity interests are “unreasonably, if not unconstitutionally, foreclosed when children are abandoned by their mothers.”  The article draws parallels to adoption and birth records law that also allow for “paternity losses due to maternal acts.”  The article argues that “Lost daddies are unwarranted because laws should not allow maternal privacy rights and interests to so easily foreclose chances for responsible fatherhood, especially in settings where births result from consensual sex between unwed partners.” 

BGF 11-14-08

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