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As we continue our nationwide contest for "most ridiculous family law bill in the country,' I am pleased to present the second-worst entry from Massachusetts. The fourth- and third-worst entries were presented last week. I invite your nominations from all states for winner of this contest. The winner will be chosen according to secret criteria that are 100 percent subjective. (To enter the contest, your email must include the text of the bill, or a link to the text. The bill must be current. Please indicate whether I can use your name as the submitter.) I now offer:

Massachusetts Doozy Number Two:

"Unwanted Baby Deposit Box'     Massachusetts HB 92

This bill expands the already-passed "Safe Havens Law.' A better name would be "The Baby Abandonment Law.' This law allows a person to drop off a baby less than 7 days of age at a hospital, police station or fire station  --  no questions asked. Under HB 92, abandonment sites would be increased to include any "emergency respondent' to a 911 call. That"s neat – a baby pick-up service. Similar laws now exist in 48 states, so a lot of people think they are a good idea. The purpose is to provide an alternative for desperate young women who might otherwise leave their unwanted baby in a dumpster in January. So maybe this is a good idea  -- but not judging by the number of abandoned babies, since this has been going up, not down, during the last ten years as these laws have been passed (Texas was first, in 1999). But that"s not all. The publicity in most states emphasizes that the process is totally anonymous. Illinois is typical. Their website says, "… you can walk away with no questions asked…. The baby will be cared for and placed in a loving home for adoption. No attempt whatsoever will be made to contact you. No crime will have been committed. This is a TRULY safe process.' Whatever happened to parental responsibility  -- you know  -- that concept that requires you to pay child support even if you never get to see the child? Does it apply only to men? Which brings to mind the following thought: What if someone proposed a law that said any dad who did not want to pay child support could just drop the baby off?  I can just imagine testimony for such a bill at a legislative hearing: "Yes, Mr. Chairman, we need this bill so that fathers who don"t want to pay child support won"t throw the baby in a dumpster. After all, some of them are desperate, you know.' So think about these scenarios: a) Unmarried mom drops off baby anonymously without informing dad, who is a fit parent and eager to raise the child. So much for fathers" rights. So much for baby"s rights to know his parents, to be raised by a biological parent, to remain out of the foster care and adoption system, and to know his medical history (increasingly important in these days of genetic medicine.) b) Married mom drops off the baby anonymously without informing dad, who is a fit parent and eager to raise the child, and disappears. c) Dad drops off the baby anonymously without informing mom, then disappears, thus dispensing with the need to pay child support. (Somehow I don"t think the authors of this bill thought of this one.)

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