By Brian Johnsrud
Three men from Minnesota were expecting to catch walleye last November. Instead, during their fishing trip they discovered the body of a newborn girl. With the umbilical cord still attached, the lifeless body peaked out the top of the icy Mississippi River waters.
The Cathedral of St. Paul immediately reacted. The Rev. Andrew Cozzens and other parishioners pleaded to have hospitals in that area start allowing newborns to be dropped off, instead of mothers finding a worse alternative.
Incidences like this have been popping up all over the country. From 1991 to 1998, the amount of abandoned infant fatalities was over four times higher, according to a study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Rashes of abandonment of newborn babies have caused many areas to consider legalizing the dropping off of newborns at designated areas.
The Georgia House of Representatives recently approved a bill that lets women leave their newborn babies at specified medical facilities. This may have been inspired by the unpredictable uproar of abandonment in Texas. Before Texas passed their own bill, 13 babies had been abandoned within ten months. The bill allowed mothers to anonymously release their infants up to 30 days old from their care. Hospitals, emergency medical technicians, and ever firehouses were drop off points.
However, the law still permits that a mother who abandons her child is subject to prosecution. The loophole is if prosecuted, the jury must acquit her if she has followed the guidelines to the law. This varies from Georgia's bill in that in Georgia, the child must be given up no more than one week after birth, and any evidence of physical mistreatment would make the mother liable for legal prosecution.
Pro-adoption organizations have been advertising against the new bill. Billboards funded mostly from donations across Texas read,: "Don't Abandon Your Baby!" Access to many hotlines and support groups has also been given out to high school student of those areas. They think that this bill will especially speak out to teenage girls who plan to hide their pregnancy and get rid of their baby promptly. In most states, adoption of newborns is available within 72 hours of birth.
In Germany, a similar approach is being taken. However, it may be frowned down upon because of it's more drastic nature. "Operation Foundling," cares for infants who have been anonymously plopped into a 12-inch by 28-inch hatch at a Hamburg clinic. Once the hatch is cealed, the newborn eventually lands on a soft bed, the process similar to a dirty laundry shoot. The German government is enthusiastic about making this procedure nationwide. Operation Foundling's designers believe that with luck, their "hatches" will become as well known as suicide-counseling centers. Critics argue that the casual drop-offs are inhumane, and argue that no attempts whatsoever are made to finding out who the mom is.
"It seems like the easy way out," said Manfred Ullstien, an anti-abortion enthusiast. "The disposable child for the disposable society."