City of Lincoln
2007 Media Releases
City Council member Robin Eschliman today encouraged State lawmakers to take action on a law that would allow parents to leave children at "safe havens" without being prosecuted for child abandonment. Eschliman has drafted a City Council resolution asking the State legislature to make the law a priority. The resolution is expected to be introduced October 1, with the public hearing October 8.
Nebraska and Alaska are the only two states without a safe haven law, which allows parents to leave children at a hospital, police or fire station or other designated location without being charged with a crime. Mayor Chris Beutler said the City cannot change child abandonment laws because they are State statutes, not local ordinances.
"I share Robin's concern that our community do all we can to protect these children," said Mayor Beutler. "The tragedy of an unwanted child is only magnified when the baby's life or health is threatened. Hopefully, the enactment of a baby safe haven law will help prevent these situations and allow us to find loving guardians for these children."
Nebraska has had two recent cases. A woman who left her baby at a Lincoln hospital after giving birth there in July has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor child abandonment in Lancaster County Court. Earlier this month, the Douglas County Attorney declined to file charges against a woman who left her newborn in the bathroom of an Omaha hospital after giving birth at home.
State Senator Arnie Stuthman of Platte Center introduced a safe haven bill (LB 157) in the last legislative session. It is the only such bill to advance from legislative committee to a floor debate, and it remains on general file. Eschliman said it was embarrassing to be one of the last states to pass a safe haven law. She stressed that a City Council resolution would not protect a parent who abandons a child from prosecution.
"Even if a State law were passed, abandoning your baby could mean serious health problems or the uncertainty of the foster care system," said Eschliman. "I would urge you to contact an adoption agency in order to find a loving home and good health care for you and your infant."