Giving Up Baby: Safe Haven Laws, Motherhood, and Reproductive Justice.
University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of Feminist Studies
ix, 274 p.
New York University Press (NYU Press)
838 Broadway, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-4812
This text explains the establishment of baby safe haven laws in every State between 1999 and 2009 to allow mothers to relinquish a newborn baby legally and anonymously at a specified institutional location, and discusses the inadequacy of the laws in addressing the social injustices that compel abandonment for the girls and women who abandon their newborns. The social, economic, and political issues that surround safe haven laws and their use to identify the social constructions of motherhood perpetuated by safe haven advocates are explored. Following an introduction, Chapter 1 examines who and why infant abandonment has motivated individual, regional, and national networks in the United States to act to intervene to save babies’ lives, and how infant abandonment prevention is linked to antiabortion philosophies and aims. Chapter 2 analyzes public service announcements, short videos, television and radio stories, websites, school curricula, and Facebook pages to understand how baby safe haven advocates have publicized the laws and educated the public about the need for them. Cases of the model use, near-miss use, and misuse of safe haven laws are the focus of Chapter 3, and Chapter 4 explores the social value of safe haven babies and what contributes to their value. The chapter analyzes how media accounts of successful safe haven adoptions and comments by adoptive parents illuminate the process of adopting a safe haven baby and advance strong messages about socially approved motherhood and families. The concluding chapters consider the complexities of pregnancy and motherhood experiences and the unequal social support available to women and girls, which is stratified by race, class, education, age, and other categories. Numerous references.
INFANT SAFE HAVEN LAWS; VOLUNTARY RELINQUISHMENT; ABANDONED INFANTS; MOTHERS; BIRTH MOTHERS; ADOPTION; ADOPTION LAWS; FEMINISM