19-year old Alison Lesch of Auburn faces a preliminary charge of attempted murder for putting her hours-old newborn daugher in a garbage bag and leaving her in a Dumpster. It is being suggested that she could have avoided the whole unpleasantness of being arrested if she had just been thinking clearly:
Use of the Indiana Safe Haven Law could have prevented this entire situation. The Safe Haven Law allows a parent to surrender their newborn child to an emergency medical services provider, no questions asked. The parent's identity is protected, and he or she will not be prosecuted under the Safe Haven Law for abandonment or neglect if he or she acts within 45 days of the birth, and the child is not harmed.
But this is one of those cases where the good intentions of the law don't seem to help much. The people most in need of it are the least likely to even know about it, so a strong public relations campaign to get the word out seems to be needed. But might not getting the word out encourage exactly the kind of irresponsbility society wants to avoid? That possibility is raised in a 2003 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, which also said that such laws, enacted in all but five states by then, seemed to have had a limited effect. And:
Many policymakers are concerned that these laws may only encourage parental irresponsibility. Since so little is known about the women who abandon their babies, there is no proof that the legislation will discourage mothers from leaving their infants in unsafe places. For women who might otherwise seek help from family, friends and social service agencies, the enactment of safe haven laws might encourage them to anonymously abandon their newborns rather than take advantage of their traditional network of support.
That seems like a reasonable worry. That "traditional network of support" has been eroding, and everything we do to make up for its lack can just end up accelerating the process.
Is attempted murder the right charge, by the way? That would seem to require intent, which probably wasn't present here. How about neglect and abuse or reckless endangerment?