No newborns have yet been abandoned under Nebraska's safe-haven law, which went into effect in July. On Wednesday, a 17-year-old boy was left at Immanuel Medical Center in Omaha, the 19th child to be abandoned at a hospital or police station since July. Others range in age from age 1 to 17, but the majority have been teens. In two cases, guardians crossed state lines to abandon their teens in Nebraska.
Nebraska's law, like those of other states, aims to keep abandoned babies safe until a permanent home can be found. Some states allow parents to remain anonymous and free from criminal charges.
Nebraska's lack of an age limit resulted from wrangling in the unicameral legislature over whether to cap eligibility at the first few hours or few months of a child's life. Lawmakers settled on substituting the word "child" for "infant" in the legislation -- opening the door to the current problem, since Nebraska considers anyone under 19 to be a child.