When it comes to mothers overwhelmed by an unwanted child, the state has one of the most compassionate laws in the nation.
The Abandoned Infant Protection Act allows parents, guardians or other legally responsible people who cannot care for newborn infants to anonymously and safely leave the infant in the care of a responsible person at a hospital, police station, fire station or another safe location.
But the baby cannot be more than five days old and the hospital, fire department, police precinct or community center must be notified. It is fitting that police arrested 31-year-old Hua Zheng for leaving her baby on her pastor's doorstep at 10 p.m. on Mother's Day. She has been charged with reckless endangerment, abandonment of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. The 3-day-old baby survived.
Perhaps we will learn that the mother is mentally ill or suffering from emotional trauma. But on face value, her act was reckless. As we understand it, she did not ring the bell. The baby was found by the pastor's 24-year-old daughter. Had she not come by when she did, this story might have been tragic.
An abandonment requires the mother to take reasonable steps to ensure her baby's safety. It is not enough to leave a baby with a note on a doorstep or outside a firehouse door. A mother who turns a baby over safely faces no repercussions, questions or threats. But to leave a baby in a vestibule at night is heartless and criminal.
©2008 Community News Group
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