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Effectiveness of abandoned baby law in question

September 18, 2003
By: Josh Hinkle
State Capital Bureau

Kansas City authorities are searching for the parents of an abandoned newborn found in a shoe box this week. Josh Hinkle has more on a law that was designed to prevent this from happening.

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Just last year, lawmakers passed the Safe Place for Newborns Act to provide an alternative for parents who decide they don't want their babies, but the law has had little visible effect.

Jim Harrison, an assistant deputy director with Family Services, says parents left only one baby at a hospital since the law began.

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Contents: "THIS CAN POTENTIALLY BE A LIFESAVER FOR AN INFANT. WE WOULD MUCH RATHER SEE PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE STATUTE AND WHAT PROTECTIONS IT MIGHT ALLOW RATHER THAN IT TO RESULT IN A SITUATION THAT COULD END TRAGICALLY FOR A CHILD."
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Harrison says parents who don't leave their babies with proper officials could face up to 15 years in prison.

The law only excuses parents with babies no older than five days who are left with hospital workers, law officers or firefighters.