Neonaticide is a hard concept for most of us to wrap our heads around. Yet, the CDC estimates that "a baby born in the United States is ten times more likely to be killed during its first day than at any other time of life. And for the first week, a baby's killer is likely to be its mother."
Mothers who kill newborns are neither mentally ill nor monsters, but they do have a surprisingly similar pattern: they feel alone, frightened, desperate and and are in a high state of denial about their pregnancy.
Safe haven laws protect mothers against abandonment, but too many young girls don't know about them or aren't in the right frame of mind to believe they'll be safe. Others fear the stigma of abortion and teenage parenthood. They're stuck between a rock and a very hard place.
While the crime has a similar pattern, the punishment can range from probation and community service to many years in jail. Panna Krom was released from York Correctional Institute last year after serving almost ten years of her 18-year sentence.
It may be difficult for all of us to wrap our heads around the reality of neonaticide. But, before we condemn, should we consider if we're doing all we can to support young girls who become pregnant?
- Panna Krom - Former inmate at York Correctional Institute in Niantic and a member of the Safe-Haven working group
- Doug Hood - Former physician’s assistant in Neurology at Yale; pursuing a career investigating criminal injustice cases
- Michelle Oberman - Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law and the co-author with Cheryl Meyer of When Mothers Kill: Interviews from Prison
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on October 6, 2016.