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MA - Paulsen helps block 'safe havens'

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  • MA - Paulsen helps block 'safe havens'

    Way to go Representative Paulsen!
    Hope her constituents are happy with her stance, especially the constituent
    that's planning to run against her in the fall election.
    I guess it didn't matter that the Boards of Selectmen, in both of the towns she
    represents, voted unanimously to put the home rule petition on both of their
    upcoming town meetings.
    Jean
    =====================
    MASSACHUSETTS
    http://www.townonline.com/belmont/ne...by02182004.htm

    Paulsen helps block 'safe havens'

    By Arthur Katz / Correspondent
    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    Anne Paulsen, Belmont's state representative, and seven fellow legislators have
    successfully stopped the adoption of a so-called "safe havens" bill in the
    current legislative session.
    Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran canceled a floor debate last Tuesday, Feb.
    10, and then erected a permanent barrier to the bill going forward.

    Such legislation, already adopted in 45 states, allow the anonymous abandonment
    of newborns at designated sites - hospitals, fire stations and police stations
    - in the expectation that such protection will reduce or eliminate the practice
    of leaving unwanted babies in dumpsters or other situations that may result in
    their deaths.

    "This bill would have set social welfare policy back 100 years," Paulsen said
    in an interview last week. "This was a 'feel-good' bill that did not attack the
    roots of the problem of unwanted pregnancies."

    In the states that have passed similar legislation, "No statistics have been
    developed that show that the children who were abandoned illegally would have
    been saved had a bill been in effect," said Paulsen. "Rates of abandonment have
    not gone down in many states. New Jersey, Florida and Texas all have huge
    numbers of abandonments despite safe havens laws because their social services
    are in disarray."

    Paulsen also objected to the legislation on the grounds that it might encourage
    abandonment of newborns.

    "Abandonment means that the child has no birthright, no medical history, and
    because those lacks make adoption more difficult, it often leaves children in
    foster care much longer than would otherwise be the case," she said.

    "I served on an adoption commission in 1998 that came up with a number of
    reforms and new rules to streamline adoption proceedings. The bill provide
    needed money to implement the needed changes at the time, but the Legislature
    has ignored these needs since," Paulsen said.

    Massachusetts joins Alaska, Hawaii (where the governor vetoed a safe havens
    bill), Nebraska and Vermont as the five states which have resisted efforts to
    put such legislation in place since Texas passed the first such bill in 1999.

    Despite the closing of the legislative avenue, Michael and Jean Morrisey of
    Lexington are continuing to pursue safe haven laws in communities throughout
    Massachusetts.

    The Morriseys got involved in the issue in 2001, when they offered to bury Baby
    Rebecca, a newborn found abandoned and dead in a Dorchester graveyard. Since
    that time, they have been promoting legislation in Massachusetts that they say
    would prevent future such tragedies.

    With help from the Morriseys, three Bay State cities and four towns (Boston,
    Westfield, Ludlow, Framingham, Natick, Lexington and Fall River) have passed
    home rule petitions to declare their communities safe havens, and Morrisey
    expects another 15 towns to have similar warrant articles in this spring's Town
    Meetings, including Belmont, Arlington, Burlington and Westford.

    A review of the legislation in the 45 states where it is in force, reveals
    certain uniformities but a wide discrepancy in many issues.

    According to a report issued by the National Center for State Courts, all safe
    haven statutes designate where a baby may be dropped off, with all designating
    hospitals and some adding police and fire stations, adoption agencies and other
    health-care providers.

    Seventeen states require that the baby be relinquished within 72 hours of
    birth, while others allow up to 90 days.

    Anonymity is assured in all the statutes, but 20 states allow safe haven
    personnel to ask for medical information.

    All states shield the mother from liability in abandoning an infant, either
    through making parents immune from prosecution for the abandonment or providing
    the mother with a legal defense.

    No state requires a mother to identify her infant's father.

    In some instances, the legislation has had the intended effect of saving
    newborn lives that might otherwise be lost. A number of news stories report
    mothers leaving babies at designated stations and hospitals, apparently because
    of the new laws.

    However, the results appear highly dependent on the amount of publicity that
    the new laws are given in the individual states. Georgia, Ohio, California and
    Kentucky, which have reportedly funded campaigns to spread the word of the
    laws, have had better results than other states.

    A detailed search of the Internet failed to reveal any nationwide statistical
    study that would quantify the effects of the legislation. One of the few
    jurisdictions which does track abandonments, Los Angeles County in California,
    appears to have made some headway in reducing illegal abandonments.

    But without more data, the controversy over the legislation continues, even
    though it currently covers 97 percent of the U.S. population.

    The National Conference of State Legislatures reported in October 2003, "The
    [safe haven] laws continue to have a limited effect ... Unlawful abandonment
    continues to be a problem."

    The report continues, "Since so little is known about the women who abandon
    their babies, there is no proof that the legislation will discourage mothers
    from leaving their infants in unsafe places. For women who might otherwise seek
    help from family, friends and social service agencies, the enactment of safe
    haven laws might encourage them to anonymously abandon their newborns rather
    than take advantage of the traditional network of support."

    Some agencies involved with adoption of unwanted children view safe haven laws,
    where the mother need provide no identification when abandoning a baby, as
    compromising their mission by reducing the possibility of having medical
    information on newborns as well as effectively cutting off the possibility of
    later relations with the natural mothers, and of significantly prolonging the
    time of foster care because of judicial issues when both parents of an adoptee
    are unknown.

    These reasons are among those cited in a 2003 report from the Evan B. Johnson
    Adoption Institute, which calls itself a "public policy research source"
    concerned with improving the quality of information about adoption, enhancing
    the understanding of adoption and advancing adoption policy and practice.

    The institute's report criticizes safe haven laws as "encouraging women to
    conceal pregnancies, then abandon infants who might otherwise have been placed
    in adoptions through established legal procedures ... inducing abandonment by
    women who otherwise would not have done so because it seems 'easier' than
    receiving counseling or making an adoption plan."

    The report goes on to note that most states have not been collecting data on
    baby abandonment in public places, making an informed assessment difficult.

    None of the resistance to their crusade has deterred the Morriseys. Michael
    Morrisey said this week, "We made a vow to Baby Rebecca as we lowered her into
    her grave in November 2001: 'No mas.' We would not stop until a safe haven law
    was passed and implemented in the commonwealth, so that not one more newborn
    would meet her fate and a woman such as Baby Rebecca's mom would have the
    option of safely surrendering a newborn."


  • #2
    MA - Paulsen helps block 'safe havens'



    BabySafeHaven wrote:
    Way to go Representative Paulsen!
    For once we agree. Congratulations, Representative Paulsen, for standing up to the
    demagoguery and false platitudes of the Morrisseys!
    Hope her constituents are happy with her stance, especially the constituent that's planning to run against her in the fall election. I guess it didn't matter that the Boards of Selectmen, in both of the towns she represents, voted unanimously to put the home rule petition on both of their upcoming town meetings.
    Too bad you don't use half the energy you spend selling snake-oil Safe Haven bills
    to credulous local legislative rubes actually working on the problem of infant
    abandonment.

    See you later, *******s.

    Ron
    Jean ===================== MASSACHUSETTS http://www.townonline.com/belmont/ne...by02182004.htm Paulsen helps block 'safe havens' By Arthur Katz / Correspondent Wednesday, February 18, 2004 Anne Paulsen, Belmont's state representative, and seven fellow legislators have successfully stopped the adoption of a so-called "safe havens" bill in the current legislative session. Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran canceled a floor debate last Tuesday, Feb. 10, and then erected a permanent barrier to the bill going forward. Such legislation, already adopted in 45 states, allow the anonymous abandonment of newborns at designated sites - hospitals, fire stations and police stations - in the expectation that such protection will reduce or eliminate the practice of leaving unwanted babies in dumpsters or other situations that may result in their deaths. "This bill would have set social welfare policy back 100 years," Paulsen said in an interview last week. "This was a 'feel-good' bill that did not attack the roots of the problem of unwanted pregnancies." In the states that have passed similar legislation, "No statistics have been developed that show that the children who were abandoned illegally would have been saved had a bill been in effect," said Paulsen. "Rates of abandonment have not gone down in many states. New Jersey, Florida and Texas all have huge numbers of abandonments despite safe havens laws because their social services are in disarray." Paulsen also objected to the legislation on the grounds that it might encourage abandonment of newborns. "Abandonment means that the child has no birthright, no medical history, and because those lacks make adoption more difficult, it often leaves children in foster care much longer than would otherwise be the case," she said. "I served on an adoption commission in 1998 that came up with a number of reforms and new rules to streamline adoption proceedings. The bill provide needed money to implement the needed changes at the time, but the Legislature has ignored these needs since," Paulsen said. Massachusetts joins Alaska, Hawaii (where the governor vetoed a safe havens bill), Nebraska and Vermont as the five states which have resisted efforts to put such legislation in place since Texas passed the first such bill in 1999. Despite the closing of the legislative avenue, Michael and Jean Morrisey of Lexington are continuing to pursue safe haven laws in communities throughout Massachusetts. The Morriseys got involved in the issue in 2001, when they offered to bury Baby Rebecca, a newborn found abandoned and dead in a Dorchester graveyard. Since that time, they have been promoting legislation in Massachusetts that they say would prevent future such tragedies. With help from the Morriseys, three Bay State cities and four towns (Boston, Westfield, Ludlow, Framingham, Natick, Lexington and Fall River) have passed home rule petitions to declare their communities safe havens, and Morrisey expects another 15 towns to have similar warrant articles in this spring's Town Meetings, including Belmont, Arlington, Burlington and Westford. A review of the legislation in the 45 states where it is in force, reveals certain uniformities but a wide discrepancy in many issues. According to a report issued by the National Center for State Courts, all safe haven statutes designate where a baby may be dropped off, with all designating hospitals and some adding police and fire stations, adoption agencies and other health-care providers. Seventeen states require that the baby be relinquished within 72 hours of birth, while others allow up to 90 days. Anonymity is assured in all the statutes, but 20 states allow safe haven personnel to ask for medical information. All states shield the mother from liability in abandoning an infant, either through making parents immune from prosecution for the abandonment or providing the mother with a legal defense. No state requires a mother to identify her infant's father. In some instances, the legislation has had the intended effect of saving newborn lives that might otherwise be lost. A number of news stories report mothers leaving babies at designated stations and hospitals, apparently because of the new laws. However, the results appear highly dependent on the amount of publicity that the new laws are given in the individual states. Georgia, Ohio, California and Kentucky, which have reportedly funded campaigns to spread the word of the laws, have had better results than other states. A detailed search of the Internet failed to reveal any nationwide statistical study that would quantify the effects of the legislation. One of the few jurisdictions which does track abandonments, Los Angeles County in California, appears to have made some headway in reducing illegal abandonments. But without more data, the controversy over the legislation continues, even though it currently covers 97 percent of the U.S. population. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported in October 2003, "The [safe haven] laws continue to have a limited effect ... Unlawful abandonment continues to be a problem." The report continues, "Since so little is known about the women who abandon their babies, there is no proof that the legislation will discourage mothers from leaving their infants in unsafe places. For women who might otherwise seek help from family, friends and social service agencies, the enactment of safe haven laws might encourage them to anonymously abandon their newborns rather than take advantage of the traditional network of support." Some agencies involved with adoption of unwanted children view safe haven laws, where the mother need provide no identification when abandoning a baby, as compromising their mission by reducing the possibility of having medical information on newborns as well as effectively cutting off the possibility of later relations with the natural mothers, and of significantly prolonging the time of foster care because of judicial issues when both parents of an adoptee are unknown. These reasons are among those cited in a 2003 report from the Evan B. Johnson Adoption Institute, which calls itself a "public policy research source" concerned with improving the quality of information about adoption, enhancing the understanding of adoption and advancing adoption policy and practice. The institute's report criticizes safe haven laws as "encouraging women to conceal pregnancies, then abandon infants who might otherwise have been placed in adoptions through established legal procedures ... inducing abandonment by women who otherwise would not have done so because it seems 'easier' than receiving counseling or making an adoption plan." The report goes on to note that most states have not been collecting data on baby abandonment in public places, making an informed assessment difficult. None of the resistance to their crusade has deterred the Morriseys. Michael Morrisey said this week, "We made a vow to Baby Rebecca as we lowered her into her grave in November 2001: 'No mas.' We would not stop until a safe haven law was passed and implemented in the commonwealth, so that not one more newborn would meet her fate and a woman such as Baby Rebecca's mom would have the option of safely surrendering a newborn."

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