Local News

Some Oppose Teaching Safe Surrender Law in Schools

Posted August 13, 2007 6:27 p.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2007 7:21 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina high school students will soon be required to take a class that provides instructions on how to lawfully abandon a newborn. But some people said they worry the new curriculum could increase the number of unplanned pregnancies.

The state's Safe Surrender Law allows mothers to abandon newborns up to 7 days old without legal repercussions as long as the infant is left with a responsible adult, such as at a hospital, fire station or police station.

Vance County has one of the state's highest teen pregnancy rates, with more than 10 percent of girls ages 15 to 19 getting pregnant in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available.

"It is frustrating, and we are seeking ways to improve our teen pregnancy rate," Vance County Health Director Dr. W. Rodwell Drake Jr. said. "Education is the key."

Local school officials said they plan to draft their curriculum on the Safe Surrender Law in the next few weeks before sending it to the Vance County Board of Education for approval. Teachers would begin using the curriculum in the 2008-09 school year.

But some people said teaching students how to abandon unwanted babies could lead to more unplanned pregnancies.

"You never think about the consequences," said Bruce Beck, education minister of Central Baptist Church in Henderson.

Beck also said schools should encourage adoptions instead of abandonment to teens that don't want to raise their newborns. He compared the Safe Surrender Law to placing an infant in a drop box.

"If they're in a drop box, they're going to have to go through the government system of having to find parents. They're going to be temporarily put somewhere, and it's going to be back and forth, back and forth," he said.