Ohio Medical Center Launches Safe Infant Abandonment Program
Stark County's Mercy Medical Center has become the first organization in Northeast Ohio to launch a program for mothers to safely abandon their infants without fear of criminal charges, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. According to HHS, in 1998, 105 infants were abandoned in public places; 33 of those babies were dead. In Stark County, there have been at least two abandoned newborns in recent years, the Beacon Journal reports. Modeled after a two-year-old Mobile, Ala., program, Stark County's program, called Secret Safe Place for Newborns, allows parents to drop off infants less than 72 hours old in the hospital's emergency room. The babies will be placed in the custody of Stark County Children Services and will receive a numbered wrist band. The infant's mother will be given her child's number in case she wants to "anonymously share information" or retrieve the infant. Calling the program a "safety net" for newborns, Christopher Dadlez, Mercy's president and CEO, said, "We believe that through this program, two lives can be saved: the life of the baby and the life of the mother, who can be free from guilt and prosecution." But "critics" maintain that such programs "encourage people to thwart the established adoption system." Marley Greiner, co-founder of the not-for-profit, civil rights organization Bastard Nation, said, "We certainly do not support baby abandonment or baby killing. We're just looking for a better way to do this. We're concerned with identity rights. This [type of program] strips the infants of any kind of medical history, genetic history." Ohio state senators are debating a measure that would establish "safe havens" at hospitals, police stations and emergency medical service agencies statewide; the bill has been approved by the state House (Powell, Akron Beacon Journal, 10/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.