Monday, January 30, 2006

Abandoned baby in Brazil makes international news

Brave and noble citizens rescued a baby girl who had been thrown in a lagoon in Brazilian city northeast of Sao Paulo. The child was dressed in a pink dress and bound in a black plastic bag along with a wooden board to prevent drowning. The girl is about two months old, and the story remains a mystery to authorities; her survival has been called a miracle.

In the above CNN article, there is a 2-minute video of the rescue (click on "Watch shocked rescuers open bag and find a crying infant -- 1:50" in the third paragraph). The video is very moving. Here are two men with a long stick attempting to fish a black bag from the lagoon, thinking a kitten is inside. The bag sinks under water a few times, and these are not even quick dunks, but submersions. Yet, the child survives. Immediately after being rescued, she appeared bluish and sickly, yet after she arrived at the hospital, she appeared to thrive, interacting with the nurse and suckling from a bottle.

So, what's the problem here? This child was purposefully bound in a bag and abandoned. Because of the board, it is clear that those who tossed her did not want her to drown. Why would a mother do this to her child? Baby girls are routinely abandoned, aborted or killed through infanticide in China by parents who prefer a boy (couples are only allowed by state mandate to have one child- no exceptions). But, in Brazil, there are no such state mandated stipulations regarding the number of children a couple can have, and abortion is not legal.

Is there a solution to problems like this? Many people are not aware, but there is a growing legalization of "safe haven" laws in the US, and these should be implemented worldwide. These laws make it possible for a mother to abandon her child legally within the first few months of the child's life. The laws vary from state to state with regard to the age of the child and the approved venues for bringing the child, but it is completely without consequence for the mother. On the other hand, if she is discovered abandoning her child at a non-approved location or not in compliance with laws, there are penalties. Although some people say that these laws create, not solve problems, the legalization of the programs continues to grow.

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