Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Woman Obeys "Unwanted Baby Law," Is Arrested Anyway

All too many times we've read about those tragic incidents where newborn babies have been abandoned by their "mothers" in trash dumpsters, roadside ditches, landfills, and even under the front porch of a home.

Oftentimes, the baby is found too late.

Why any person would do such an awful thing to a helpless child has been the subject of debate and discussion for years.

To address this, several states have ennacted legislation permitting women to abandon their unwanted newborns at hospitals, places of worship, and other designated places without fear of prosecution.

In South Carolina, this legislation is called Daniel's Law, after a newborn that was found alive after being buried in a landfill and subsequently named Daniel by hospital staff. (More about this law

And now, Hannah Jolly, who is one of the first women in South Carolina to actually take advantage of the law's provisions, brought her newborn to a hospital in the city of Gaffney, left the baby, and
was arrested anyway:
A mother who left her newborn child at a Gaffney hospital last week has been charged with neglect after the baby tested positive for marijuana and cocaine.

Hannah Lauren Jolly, 20, of Gaffney took her newborn baby girl to Upstate Carolina Medical Center on Thursday morning and told nurses a friend had given birth to the child, Cherokee County Sheriff Bill Blanton said Monday.

The child was relinquished under a state law known as Daniel's Law that grants prosecutorial immunity from abandonment charges to those who leave babies younger than 30 days old at a hospital, church, synagogue, fire department or outpatient medical facility.

After the baby tested positive for drugs last week, officers tracked down Jolly, who turned herself in Monday and was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

Blanton said Jolly was not charged because she left the baby at the hospital.

"But you can't use drugs while you're pregnant -- that's a crime -- and you can't use Daniel's Law to circumvent the law," he said.

The child has been released to the Department of Social Services. A hearing to determine where the child should be placed will be held at Aug. 9.

The child neglect charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
With the publicity surrounding the arrest of Hannah Jolly, what lessons will other pregnant "crack mothers" draw from this incident?

Considering that the intent of Daniel's Law is to protect infants by offering women the option of leaving their unwanted babies in a safe place, did the authorities really serve the interests of these children by arresting Hannah Jolly for her drug use?

Or did the state protect unborn children by putting her behind bars and sending this unmistakable message to other pregnant drug users?

You make the call.
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