In this Book

  • Giving Up Baby: Safe Haven Laws, Motherhood, and Reproductive Justice
  • Book
  • Laury Oaks
  • 2015
  • Published by: NYU Press
    • Viewed
    • View Citation
summary

“Baby safe haven” laws, which allow a parent to relinquish a newborn baby legally and anonymously at a specified institutional location—such as a hospital or fire station—were established in every state between 1999 and 2009. Promoted during a time of heated public debate over policies on abortion, sex education, teen pregnancy, adoption, welfare, immigrant reproduction, and child abuse, safe haven laws were passed by the majority of states with little contest. These laws were thought to offer a solution to the consequences of unwanted pregnancies: mothers would no longer be burdened with children they could not care for, and newborn babies would no longer be abandoned in dumpsters.

Yet while these laws are well meaning, they ignore the real problem: some women lack key social and economic supports that mothers need to raise children. Safe haven laws do little to help disadvantaged women. Instead,
advocates of safe haven laws target teenagers, women of color, and poor women with safe haven information and see relinquishing custody of their newborns as an act of maternal love. Disadvantaged women are preemptively judged as “bad” mothers whose babies would be better off without them.

Laury Oaks argues that the labeling of certain kinds of women as potential “bad” mothers who should consider anonymously giving up their newborns for adoption into a “loving” home should best be understood as an issue of reproductive justice. Safe haven discourses promote narrow images of who deserves to be a mother and reflect restrictive views on how we should treat women experiencing unwanted pregnancy.

Table of Contents

restricted access Download Full Book
  1. Cover
  2. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Half-Title Page, Title Page, Copyright
  2. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. vii-x
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Introduction: Safe Haven Laws Are Not Only about Saving Babies
  2. pp. 1-46
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. 1. The Work of Saving Babies' Lives and Souls
  2. pp. 47-74
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. 2. Girls at Risk of Dumping Their Newborns
  2. pp. 75-116
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. 3. Relinquishing Motherhood: How and Why Safe Haven Surrenders Happen
  2. pp. 117-164
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. 4. The Unsurpassed Adoption Value of Safe Haven Babies
  2. pp. 165-202
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Conclusion: Safe Haven Laws and Advancing Reproductive Justice
  2. pp. 203-222
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 223-232
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. References
  2. pp. 233-264
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. Index
  2. pp. 265-274
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
  1. About the Author
  2. p. 275
  3. restricted access
    • Download PDF Download
Back To Top