To the editor:
It is vital that people support the proposed bill to extend the current safe-haven law in Iowa until a child turns 1 year old.
Current law in Iowa allows a newborn to be dropped off at a hospital or health care facility if the newborn is 14 days old or younger anonymously and without fear of prosecution. Since the law was enacted in 2001, it has been used a total of 14 times. Each newborn was safely adopted into a new permanent home.
A total of 14 newborns have been saved from possible abuse and potential infanticide in Iowa from the current law since the law came into action in 2001, but what happens when a child is 16 days old? As a mother, I know the postpartum period can be trying for parents even in ideal circumstances. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, postpartum depression alone can occur soon after deliveries or as far off as one year later. What happens currently if a mother cannot think clearly within the first month of giving birth, but then realizes she cannot handle being a mother? At that point it is past 14 days and she cannot relinquish parental rights without some penalty. The mother is then faced with fear of penalty or the child possibly faces dangers like abuse or possible death.
Rep. Mark Smith, a social worker, has proposed the 2001 safe haven bill be extended from a 14-day age limit to up to one year of age. Upping the age limit to 1 year old would give confused mother's time to think about their decision and allow a longer "safety net" in case circumstances should change.
I strongly encourage readers to support the updated bill and ensure safety for many more of Iowa's infants at risk.