Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oprah Supports Baby Safe Haven Law

Oprah Winfrey is calling for the passage of Baby Safe Haven laws in the remaining states without such laws -- Hawaii, Nebraska and Alaska. Yesterday, the Oprah show presented the case of 15-year-old Jessica Coleman who gave birth to and abandoned her unwanted baby. The baby was found 6 months later, in a duffle bag filled with stones, in the bottom of a river. For years, the community only knew him as Baby Hope. Jessica confessed to the crime 6 years later, and is now serving time in prison. She says she had no one to turn to for help, and that had there been a safe haven option, she believes she would not have committed the crime.

Rep. John Mizuno introduced HB1830 to create baby safe haven laws in Hawaii. He believes that the Governor will veto the bill, as she has done in the past. Linda Smith, senior policy advisor, has stated that Hawaii does not have many cases of abandoned babies and that things in Hawaii are different from the mainland, where the concept of "ohana" encourages taking care of children in extended families. However, there have been three high-profile abandonment cases in the past few years. In 2005, a baby was found dead in a shallow grave in Kalihi. In 2001, a baby was found dead in a rice bag. In 1999, a dead baby was found in a shoebox on Tantalus. Rep. Mizuno states that if just one baby's life is saved by this bill, the law is justified.

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