DEAR ABBY: I am writing to spread the word that the state of Illinois has a "safe haven" law. Instead of taking the drastic step of abandoning a newborn infant, parents need to know that there is an alternative. Babies within three days of birth can be taken to any staffed fire station or hospital. You don't have to give your name -- no police will be called. Your baby will get medical care and be placed for adoption. This "no questions asked" safe alternative is for parents who might otherwise panic and try to hide the birth by abandoning the infant.
If you or anyone you know needs more information, within Illinois call (800) 252-2873. The number is active 24/7. -- CONCERNED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR CONCERNED: California also has a safe-haven law, but because my column appears in papers nationwide, I called my friend Bill Lockyer, attorney general for the state of California, to ask how many other states have similar laws. He informed me that 42 states have such protections; however, the grace period varies in duration. (Some states demand the child must be a newborn; others allow three days, 30 days or 45 days as the grace period.)
Only eight states do not have such a compassionate provision at this time. However, legislation is pending in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming. Alaska and Nebraska have no such provision pending. They are far behind the times.
I recommend that concerned citizens in all eight states write or e-mail their legislators and let them know how important such a law is, and that when it has passed, it should be PUBLICIZED. As regrettable as the need for such a law may be, it's better than a child being left to die of exposure in a Dumpster or a restroom by a parent who could not cope with parenthood.