Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I would never dream of going to a place like Robert's Steak House on West 45th Street in Manhattan, for any number of reasons. But I always enjoy good, funny writing. Frank Bruni's review carries the wonderful heading, "Where Only the Salad is Properly Dressed."
Posted by Gillian Coldsnow at 8:23 PM
Every now and then we get a news story about live babies found abandoned, sometimes in disgusting places - dumpsters, public bathrooms. What’s most surprising is when these cases take place in states such as Washington, where there is a “safe haven” law.
This law permits a person -- usually a parent -- to abandon a newborn baby at certain places, such as hospitals, police stations or firehouses. The first state to enact the law was Texas, in 1999. As of 2006, all but 4 states had similar laws, bearing names such as Safe Place, Baby Moses Law, Safe Arms for Newborns, Safe Delivery, Safe Surrender.
In Washington state, the law states a baby up to 3 days old may be abandoned without penalty if given to an employee or volunteer at a fire station or hospital. With such a shield, it's hard to know why people continue to dump their infants anywhere other than the places specified. Ignorance? Sheer callousness? Who's to know.
This sort of thing goes back to Biblical times, when Pharoah ordered the drowning of every newborn Hebrew boy. The mother of Moses put him in a basket, nestled it in the reeds in the Nile. He was found and adopted, by no less than Pharoah's daughter.
The Middle Ages devised the “foundling wheel” which allowed women to deposit their offspring without being seen.
And now technology has transformed the foundling wheel in Italy. It's a sophisticated system to provide for the safety of abandoned newborns. In today’s New York Times, Elisabetta Povoledo writes:
“Now a Rome hospital, the Casilino Polyclinic, has introduced a technologically advanced version of the foundling wheel — not at all a wheel but very much like an A.T.M. booth. For the first time a new mother left her baby there on Saturday night, and on Monday the child, a boy about 3 months old, was doing well.”
"The baby was deposited in a small structure equipped with a heated cradle and lifesaving instruments, including a respirator.
"As in bygone days, it is possible for a woman to leave a baby without being seen, but the moment the child is abandoned an alarm goes off in the hospital’s emergency room, ensuring that the baby receives immediate first aid from a team of specialists."
Here’s the whole article: Updating an Old Way to Leave the Baby on the Doorstep.
I found this interesting: Povoledo says, "many common family names in Italy can be traced to a foundling past: Esposito (because children were sometimes “exposed” on the steps of a convent), Proietti (from the Latin proicio, to throw away) or Innocenti (as in innocent of their father’s sin)."
And back to Washington state: just last month, a baby was abandoned on the steps of a Mount Vernon church. Here’s the Seattle Post Intelligencer’s report.
Here are some links:
Safe Place for Newborns
(Their page on this topic has information on the history, enactment and effectiveness of safe haven laws.)