Two babies born last week in Iowa have been turned over to the care of others, taking advantage of Iowa’s “Safe Haven” law. In 2001, the Iowa Legislature and Governor Vilsack established a new law that lets mothers leave their unwanted babies at a health facility, and the new moms won’t face abandonment charges. This past week, two Iowa women who went to the hospital to deliver their babies then said they didn’t want them. and gave them up using the “safe haven” law. Roger Munns, a spokesman for the Department of Human Services, says officials anticipated mothers who didn’t want their children would deliver their babies somewhere else besides the hospital, and then bring their unwanted babies to the hospital for safe-keeping. Munns says now, though, they’ve had the first two cases in which mothers have gone to the hospital to deliver their child, then announce they want to give it up for adoption. Both babies are now in the care of foster parents who plan to adopt the kids. Munns says when the law was passed, officials weren’t expecting many mothers to use it since the target audience is women who are often denying they’re pregnant until the baby is born. Munns says they were “pleasantly surprised” when Iowa’s first “safe haven” baby was given up for adoption in 2003, and have even been more pleasantly surprised now that babies five and six have been turned over for adoption rather than abandoned or strangled, as was the case with “Baby Chelsea” — the case that spawned the law in Iowa. Munns says because of the law, several children are now living in loving homes that “may otherwise have been harmed.” Thirty states have similar “Safe Haven” laws.
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