Sunday, April 15, 2001

Newborn drop-offs considered

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT, Ky. — A state representative from northern Kentucky will meet with prosecutors to pitch the idea of a local program that would allow parents to anonymously turn over newborn babies without facing prosecution.

        Rep. Jim Callahan, D-Wilder, proposed the program, which is based on one in Hamilton County, Ohio. He will meet with county attorneys from Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties next week.

        “If the interest is anything like what was generated over the phone, it will happen,” Mr. Callahan said.

        County attorneys would have to agree not to prosecute parents as long as the child is unharmed.

        Hamilton County instituted the program last summer after legislation on the issue at the state level failed. This year, though, the Ohio Legislature passed a bill on baby abandonment.

        The 2001 Kentucky General Assembly considered two pieces of abandoned infant legislation, one in the House and one in the Senate, but failed to pass either.

        Until legislation is approved, Mr. Callahan said he wants to put some kind of program in place in northern Kentucky.

        “I thought if (Hamilton County) can do it at the county level, why can't we?” he said.

        Hamilton County prosecutors and hospitals in August set up a program called A Secret, Safe Place for Newborns to help curb the number of newborns left to die.

        Mr. Callahan's idea comes after two recent cases of abandonment in Kentucky. Two newborns have been found dead in the past month, one in a dorm room at Murray State University and the other in a portable toilet in Grayson County near the Tennessee border.


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