On April 5, 2001, a small band of volunteers completed a grand slam in the Illinois legislature. Legislation to save abandoned babies passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 114 – 0. The day before, April 4, the bill passed the Senate 56 – 0.
Although the bills passed without a single dissenting vote, as is common in the legislative process, there are minor differences between the Senate and House bills. It is expected that those will be worked out soon and the Governor will sign the legislation. The Governor has had some well-publicized difficulties which would make it very unlikely he would not want the good media coverage that will come in putting the final touches on the legislation.
With the expected signature of the Governor — what Governor in his right mind would veto a bill that passed with those kinds of numbers? — the most populous states in the United States will have all passed bills to offer a “secret safe place for newborn babies.” Texas led off the parade of progressive states, enacting the first law. Then California and Florida and New York. Now Illinois.
This legislation is sweeping the United States despite the best efforts and all-out campaign of groups like Bastard Nation — and more traditional voices for the social work establishment like the Child Welfare League of America — to stop or slow the movement.
What Illinois proves is that if there is a group of concerned citizens led by an energetic volunteer — in this case, a woman named Dawn Geras — the commonsense values that the bills represent win over opponents and garner support from every part of the ideological and political spectrum.
Remember people like Dawn Geras the next time someone tells you that motivated individuals don’t count. Dawn knows that every single baby counts, and that a live baby wins out every time — even if that baby survives without a name, a medical history or sign-offs by uninvolved biological fathers.