November 23, 2011

There's The Story And Then There's The Message (Safe Havens)

I find the news depressing most of the time, but some stories make me sick to my stomach, like the update on the woman, Meredith Borowiec, who put her newborn son in a dumpster last year. As if abandonment of her baby weren't bad enough, she is now being charged for second degree murder of two babies she had in 2008 and 2009. Thankfully the son she put in the dumpster was rescued and survived. I was horrified by what the woman had done, but rashly tweeted the story. Why? I don't know. Misery loves company? It's not like anyone can help the babies now. Shortly after my tweet went out, I realized my action was inappropriate because I didn't have a message to go along with the story.

To many, WTF?! is enough of a message to accompany a shocking story, but when tragedies like this occur, I feel the media has a responsibility to step up and include helpful information in the hopes that repeat tragedies can be avoided. By doing a quick "where to drop off unwanted babies" search, I learned that in the U.S.A. (and many other countries), there are locations called safe havens that will accept babies. Incidentally, it is true that you can drop your baby off at a hospital, but baby must be brought inside and given to hospital staff. I didn't read anything specific about church doorsteps, though a church or any public place, really, would give the baby a chance for survival. For the mother to be protected by law, however, she must leave her unwanted baby in a safe haven as defined by law.

A Safe Haven in the U.S.
In Canada, a mom could face jail-time for  abandoning her baby.
Unfortunately, in Canada, we do not have Safe Haven legislation. Would it have made a difference in Borowiec's case? Perhaps. According to today's follow-up story on CTV, Seeking A Safe Haven Law, "Safe haven programs in the United States have saved more than 2800 infants since the legislation was passed." In Alberta, where the crimes took place, "Edmonton's Covenant Health Group is pushing the province to adopt the law." 

How You Can Help (alternate title: What the media fails to share with the public)

Please join the Facebook group, Passing a Safe Haven Law in Canada and sign the online petition at: 

Resources for Americans

The United States has Safe Haven Laws in all of the 50 states. More information is available on the Baby Drop Off website. Depending where you live, babies can be dropped off within 72 hours of birth or until the age of three in Hawaii, if the site is correct.

The message is more important than the story! Be the best messenger you can be! (Of course this doesn't apply to random ridiculousness for entertainment purposes only.)

Are you an engaged citizen? How do you take action when something upsets you?


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