The great state of Nebraska is learning the hard way — in vicious examples — of the dire importance of precision in the law. The Cornhusker State is dealing with the humiliating dumping of teenagers under their new “Safe Haven” — a law written so broadly that any minor child is eligible for abandonment into state care — without any legal or financial repercussion for the parent or custodian.
Nebraska was the last of 50 states to enact a “Safe Haven” law — laws intended to protect unwanted infants by allowing parents to drop off an infant at any firehouse, police station or hospital with no questions asked — but since Nebraska did not set a 72-hour, or even one-year, cutoff date for protection, any minor child under 19 is eligible for the abandonment.
On September 13, a 15-year-old boy was dumped at BryanLGH Medical Center in Lincoln and an 11-year-old boy was left at Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha.
On September 20, a 13-year-old girl was dropped off at Immanuel.
How does something like this happen?
When you’re in last place in adopting a state law to protect unwanted babies, you’d think Nebraska would’ve learned from the trials and triumphs of the other 49 states and then crafted the best “Safe Haven” law in the nation.
Instead of creating the greatest Safe Haven law, Nebraska created the cruelest.
How terrible must it feel, at age 15, to be abandoned by your family?
I’m sure the Nebraska Unicameral never, in their wildest nightmares, ever thought a parent would exploit the Safe Haven law and expand it beyond infancy and into near-adulthood.
Twenty years ago, that would not have happened — because back then Nebraska was a different place where the spirit of the law was honored and not just its hard letter.
Nebraska lost its innocence across those two decades. Nebraska is no longer the “we are one, we are the same” state it once was.
Nebraska is now filled with color and immigrants and religions beyond the Christian mainstream and the state, in its entirety, is much better off for the integration of varied ideas, values and moralities.
The problem with that change in the populace is the lily-White Unicameral was caught unaware of the change in dynamic social memes swirling beyond the golden, intellectual, havens of Lincoln and Omaha.
The great state of Nebraska knows the hard answer to that question and they better quickly pick up saber and scythe to sow a better Safe Haven for newborns — and protect innocent teenagers from its current venial vengeance — to better reflect the state motto: “Equality Before the Law.”