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VT - Post walk - Activist walks to promote 'safe haven' law

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  • VT - Post walk - Activist walks to promote 'safe haven' law

    VERMONT
    http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs....8/NEWS/4101803
    15/1003/NEWS02

    Activist walks to promote 'safe haven' law

    October 18, 2004

    By Daniel Barlow Rutland Herald
    HINESBURG — When Rocky Harlow's second child was born five years ago, he read
    about a teenage mother who abandoned her baby in a trash can after giving birth
    at her prom.

    "It would just tear me up to hear about those stories," he said.

    He decided to do something about it. Last week, he hit the trails to bring
    attention to the lack of "safe haven" laws in Vermont.

    Harlow, a theatrical light equipment salesman who lives in Hinesburg, was
    hoping to highlight the state's lack of laws decriminalizing newborn
    abandonment. He walked more than 34 miles from his home here to Montpelier,
    arriving Friday afternoon.

    "My hope was to generate public interst and visible interest in this," he said
    Sunday.

    Vermont is one of four states in the country without such a law, which many
    believe saves the lives of unwanted infants by creating an alternative to
    abandoning them outside.

    Harlow said he has tried contacting numerous Vermont legislators to sponsor a
    bill in the House or Senate, but his effort resulted in many promises, but no
    action. He hopes that his walk, which ended with a press conference at the
    office of Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, will prompt a legislator to take up
    the issue.

    "It's almost as if they are waiting for a body to show up first," Harlow said
    last week, before his walk, referring to the low number of child abandonment
    cases in Vermont. "I thought the Vermont Legislature was really
    forward-thinking and proactive."

    He has since been contacted by a legislator, who has expressed interest in
    pursuing the topic.

    Texas, which sees approximately 33 abandoned babies each year, was the first
    state to pass a safe haven law in 1999. Beside Vermont, neither Nebraska,
    Alaska nor Hawaii have passed safe haven laws.

    Under these laws, a mother who has an unwanted child can hand the infant over
    to a law enforcement agency without any questions; typically, supporters of
    these laws say, these children would be left for dead in trash cans, bathrooms
    or the woods.

    Harlow was joined on the walk by his father, Bud Harlow. His younger sister,
    Heather Harlow, walked with him the first day. Also hiking with him were two
    safe haven advocates who flew in from California and three advocates who drove
    up from Massachusetts. The Massachusetts safe haven law will become active Oct.
    29.

    "A lot of laws passed are because of cause and effect," said Michael Morrisey,
    an advocate from Massachusetts, who became involved in the movement three years
    ago after he and his wife handled the burial of an abandoned newborn in Boston.

    "A lot of lawmakers probably say this isn't happening in Vermont, why should we
    pass this law?"Harlow covered approximately 22 miles the first day, and spent
    the night at the state park in Waterbury. He arrived in Montpelier a little
    after noon, "just enough time to get something to eat and stiffen up a bit," he
    said Sunday night.

    Markowitz, who discovered an abandoned baby girl during a walk in 1991, spoke
    with him at the press conference.

    "She will be a great ally in moving this forward," he said afterwards.

    But it has occurred in Vermont, he explained. In the late 1990s, for example, a
    Green Mountain College student abandoned her infant in Poultney. The child
    survived.

    Harlow said he is cautiously optimistic that the publicity will get a
    legislator to support his initiative.

    "It's extremely frustrating that our state legislators are determined not to
    take action," he said. "This is an issue they have continually ignored."

  • #2
    VT - Post walk - Activist walks to promote 'safe haven' law


    "BabySafeHaven" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    VERMONT http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs....8/NEWS/4101803 15/1003/NEWS02 Activist walks to promote 'safe haven' law October 18, 2004 By Daniel Barlow Rutland Herald HINESBURG - When Rocky Harlow's second child was born five years ago, he
    read
    about a teenage mother who abandoned her baby in a trash can after giving
    birth
    at her prom. "It would just tear me up to hear about those stories," he said. He decided to do something about it. Last week, he hit the trails to bring attention to the lack of "safe haven" laws in Vermont. Harlow, a theatrical light equipment salesman who lives in Hinesburg, was hoping to highlight the state's lack of laws decriminalizing newborn abandonment. He walked more than 34 miles from his home here to
    Montpelier,
    arriving Friday afternoon. "My hope was to generate public interst and visible interest in this," he
    said
    Sunday. Vermont is one of four states in the country without such a law, which
    many
    believe saves the lives of unwanted infants by creating an alternative to abandoning them outside. Harlow said he has tried contacting numerous Vermont legislators to
    sponsor a
    bill in the House or Senate, but his effort resulted in many promises, but
    no
    action. He hopes that his walk, which ended with a press conference at the office of Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, will prompt a legislator to
    take up
    the issue. "It's almost as if they are waiting for a body to show up first," Harlow
    said
    last week, before his walk, referring to the low number of child
    abandonment
    cases in Vermont. "I thought the Vermont Legislature was really forward-thinking and proactive." He has since been contacted by a legislator, who has expressed interest in pursuing the topic. Texas, which sees approximately 33 abandoned babies each year, was the
    first
    state to pass a safe haven law in 1999. Beside Vermont, neither Nebraska, Alaska nor Hawaii have passed safe haven laws. Under these laws, a mother who has an unwanted child can hand the infant
    over
    to a law enforcement agency without any questions; typically, supporters
    of
    these laws say, these children would be left for dead in trash cans,
    bathrooms
    or the woods. Harlow was joined on the walk by his father, Bud Harlow. His younger
    sister,
    Heather Harlow, walked with him the first day. Also hiking with him were
    two
    safe haven advocates who flew in from California and three advocates who
    drove
    up from Massachusetts. The Massachusetts safe haven law will become active
    Oct.
    29. "A lot of laws passed are because of cause and effect," said Michael
    Morrisey,
    an advocate from Massachusetts, who became involved in the movement three
    years
    ago after he and his wife handled the burial of an abandoned newborn in
    Boston.
    "A lot of lawmakers probably say this isn't happening in Vermont, why
    should we
    pass this law?"Harlow covered approximately 22 miles the first day, and
    spent
    the night at the state park in Waterbury. He arrived in Montpelier a
    little
    after noon, "just enough time to get something to eat and stiffen up a
    bit," he
    said Sunday night. Markowitz, who discovered an abandoned baby girl during a walk in 1991,
    spoke
    with him at the press conference. "She will be a great ally in moving this forward," he said afterwards. But it has occurred in Vermont, he explained. In the late 1990s, for
    example, a
    Green Mountain College student abandoned her infant in Poultney. The child survived. Harlow said he is cautiously optimistic that the publicity will get a legislator to support his initiative. "It's extremely frustrating that our state legislators are determined not
    to
    take action," he said. "This is an issue they have continually ignored."
    How can this be something to write about - no mention of howling winds,
    rain, snow or the wily polar bear tracking him across the arctic barrens as
    he walks his 34 miles. Why, in the Frozen North, we have school children
    who walk that to school in the morning - and its all uphill to boot.

    Doug Thomas


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