Thursday, September 25, 2008

9 Kids Abandoned. Safe Haven Law Criticized. No One Wants to Talk About Human Nature?

I can't tell you how completely empty I feel about this devastating family tragedy, caused by the most uncaring, irresponsible parent Nebraska has probably seen in recent memory, short of a murder suicide.

AP-Nine children were left at a hospital by their father late Wednesday under the state's new safe haven law, a move officials say illustrates the problems many feared when the rule went into effect. The father, who was not identified, left the children aged 1 to 17 at Creighton University Medical Center's emergency room.

The law, which went into effect in July, allows caregivers to abandon children at any state-licensed hospital without fear of prosecution. It was initially intended to protect infants — like similar laws in other states — but was amended to include children and teenagers.

At least four children between the ages of 11 and 15 have been abandoned by parents since the law took effect. The nine youngsters surrendered Wednesday are OK, said Kathie Osterman, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. She didn't know how many were boys or girls, or why their father left them.

The AP article goes on about the problems of safe haven laws and it's unintended consequences. But instead of criticizing the law, which worked in this case, let's criticize the parent. The law isn't the problem, it's human nature.

UPDATE: AP-Friday 26, 2008-An out-of-work widower who abandoned nine of his children at a hospital under Nebraska's new safe haven law said he was overwhelmed without his wife and just "fell apart."

"I hope they know I love them," Gary Staton told KETV. "I hope their future is better without me around them."

Staton said his wife died early last year, shortly after delivering their youngest child. He said he quit his job because of his family responsibilities but couldn't pay rent or utilities or take care of his kids.

"I was with her for 17 years, and then she was gone," he said of his late wife. "What was I going to do? We raised them together. I didn't think I could do it alone. I fell apart. I couldn't take care of them."

Staton said he surrendered them so they would be safe.

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