Kansas Attorney General Steve Six is mounting a laudable effort to raise awareness of the Kansas Newborn Infant Protection Act.
The law, which went into effect in January 2007, allows a parent or legal guardian of a child up to the age of 45 days to legally surrender that child to an employee of a fire station, health department of medical facility. As long as the child has not suffered bodily harm, the person can give the child up without fear of legal prosecution.
It’s difficult for most Kansans to understand why a parent or legal guardian would make such a choice, but giving a child up clearly is preferable to some other choices a parent could make. In a press release this week, Six said that his office had handled several cases involving mothers who had killed their newborn babies.
The release noted some common circumstances in the cases. The woman’s pregnancy usually is unplanned and hidden from friends and family. The mother will intentionally deliver the baby away from a medical facility, likely at home. Alone and overwhelmed, she takes horrible, desperate action.
It’s the AG’s sad duty to prosecute such cases, but it would be far preferable to eliminate them. The first line of defense is to try to provide the kind of support and services that a pregnant women needs to cope with preparing to raise a child or give it up for adoption. For women who can’t be reached with that kind of support, the best option may be to try to let them know they have another choice.
If a mother can’t take care of her child, she can legally surrender it to someone who can. Getting information about the state’s infant protection act to those who need it is a daunting task, but it’s good that Six is making it a priority.
When a new mother’s life seems to be spinning out of control, it may seem that there aren’t any good choices. The worse choice, however, is to end a baby’s life. The goal of the state law is to give even the most desperate parent another option. Six and other health care professionals across the state are doing the right thing by trying make that option more visible.