Neb. parents rush to leave kids before law changes LINCOLN, Neb
. – The mother was running out of more than patience when she abandoned her 18-year-old daughter at a hospital over the weekend under Nebraska's safe-haven law. She was also running out of time: She knew that state lawmakers would soon meet in a special session to amend the ill-fated law so that it would apply to newborns only.
"Where am I going to get help if they change the law?" said the mother, who lives in Lincoln and asked to not be identified by name to protect her adopted child.
To the state's surprise and embarrassment, more than half of the 31 children legally abandoned under the safe-haven law since it took effect in mid-July have been teenagers.
But state officials may have inadvertently made things worse with their hesitant response to the problem: The number of drop-offs has almost tripled to about three a week since Gov. Dave Heineman announced on Oct. 29 that lawmakers would rewrite the law.
With legislators set to convene on Friday, weary parents like the Lincoln mother have been racing to drop off their children while they still can.
The safe-haven law was intended to save "Dumpster babies" by allowing desperate young mothers to abandon their newborns at a hospital without fear of prosecution. But lawmakers could not agree on an age limit, and the law as passed uses only the word "child."
All states have safe-haven laws, but in every state but Nebraska, the law applies to infants only.