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9 siblings are abandoned under Neb. safe haven law

By Timberly Ross
Associated Press / September 26, 2008
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OMAHA, Neb. - Eleven youngsters ranging in age from 1 to 17 were left at hospitals Wednesday under Nebraska's unique safe haven law, which allows caregivers to abandon youngsters up to age 19 without fear of prosecution.

Nine of the children came from one family. The five boys and four girls were left by their father, who was not identified, at Creighton University Medical Center's emergency room. Unrelated boys ages 11 and 15 also were surrendered Wednesday at Immanuel Medical Center.

The law, which went into effect in July, initially was intended to protect infants. In a compromise with senators worried about arbitrary age limits, the measure was expanded to include the word "child," which wasn't defined.

At least 16 children have been abandoned since the law took effect, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Two of those cases don't fall under the safe haven law because one child was left at a police station and one child's age wasn't covered by the law.

Todd Landry, director of Health and Human Services' division of Children and Family Services, said that in nearly every case, the parents who left their children felt overwhelmed and had decided they didn't want to be parents anymore.

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