Thanks, Oprah!

My sister received an e-mail this past Friday from someone on her Respect Life Committee saying she should watch Oprah. A young girl was going to talk about how she killed her baby. My sister called me up and reported the same message to me. So I did something I very rarely do—I turned on my TV! There sat Oprah, interviewing a young woman from prison via telecast. This was the story: In February 1999, Jessica Coleman killed her four pound baby boy after giving birth to him alone in her bathroom. She was just 15 years old at the time. She was able to keep the pregnancy a secret from everyone, including her parents. The only person who knew was her then boyfriend, Tom Truelson, Jr, who was a freshman in college. Jessica stabbed her baby in the chest, stuffed him in a duffle bag and hid him in her closet. The next day, Tom filled the bag with rocks and drove the baby down to a quarry where he dumped the body. They swore to never tell anybody. Six months later a diver found the bag. Upon opening it, the baby’s leg and foot fell out. He quickly reported it to the police, but they were unable to track down the mother of the baby. Six years later, Jessica was out to dinner with her new boyfriend, Matt. Their relationship was becoming more serious and they were talking about marriage and kids. Jessica broke down sobbing and told Matt the whole story. Someone overheard their conversation and called the police. When they came to Jessica’s house to question her, she met them at the door and freely admitted to the crime. She was convicted and sentenced to 6 years in prison. Jessica regrets was she did and has made it her mission to encourage teens to get help if they find themselves pregnant and scared. She also wants to let teens know about safe haven laws. These laws enable mothers to bring babies to certain places—like hospitals, fire stations and police stations—and leave them in the care of the state, with no questions asked. Towards the end of the show, Oprah had a testimony from reporter, Suzanne Hobbs. In 2000, Suzanne had been covering a story about a dead baby who was found in a dumpster. The story affected her personally because she and her husband were trying to conceive a baby. This moved her to work for the passage of a safe haven law in her home state of Idaho. In 2001 a safe haven law was past in Idaho. Since that time, 13 babies have been dropped off, including a baby girl who is now Suzanne’s adopted daughter. Since 1999, 47 states have adopted their own individual safe haven laws. Only three states—Nebraska, Hawaii and Alaska—do not yet have safe haven laws. Safe haven laws are a good “way out” for young women. We hear too many stories of babies being left in dumpsters, many times to die. If only these young mothers knew that there was a safe place they could take their babies with no questions asked. I want to thank Oprah for brining this issue to light to over 10 million viewers. Perhaps it will save a baby’s life.

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