Just a few weeks ago, a recycling plant worker in the state of New York made a ghastly discovery. She found the body of a newborn baby in a plastic bag at her work. The death has been ruled a homicide and police are trying to find the mother. In Germany, a woman was tracked down and admitted to abandoning two infants near the Germany –Netherlands border. The babies were abandoned two years apart, one in 2011 and the other in 2013. Both were alive and have been placed in foster care. These are not isolated cases. Babies all around the world, the US included, are abandoned and left to die or are killed and then discarded. “Who would do such a thing?” is a common reaction. What can be done?
Women who wrap their infant in a towel or blanket and leave them in a place where the baby is likely to be found usually want a good outcome for their infant but don’t want anyone to know about the pregnancy. Either they feel their life will be negatively affected by the child or they feel they can’t take care of the child properly. Check out the story of a man in Korea who made a baby drop box for abandoned infants. He mentions some of the reasons why women say they abandon their babies.
An interesting study in 2004 looked at the characteristics of women who killed and or abandoned their newborns. These girls came from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Most of the women were young, either in their teens or early twenties. They hid their pregnancies from others and usually even denied to themselves that they were pregnant. They were emotionally immature. Often at the time of delivery they believed they had to have a bowel movement and then delivered their baby on the toilet in a bathroom at home. According to the study, the girls were shocked and confused at delivery and sometimes killed the infants while trying to stop the baby from crying and alerting others in the house to the infant.
What can be Done? Safe Haven Laws
After an increase in the amount of abandoned and discarded infants in the 1990s, many states in the US started creating Safe Haven Laws. These laws allow a woman to leave her infant with a “safe person” such as staff at a hospital, fire station, or police station within a certain amount of time from birth with no questions asked and without being prosecuted for abandoning her infant. Every state now has a Safe Haven Law in place. The laws vary from state to state regarding the time frame a woman has to utilize the Safe Haven. In Wyoming, a woman can bring her live infant to a hospital, police station or fire station within 14 days of delivery and not be prosecuted for child abandonment. The baby can then be placed in foster care or in an adoptive family.
It is important for at risk women to know about the Safe Haven Laws so they can seek help and find a safe place for their infant and receive any needed medical care themselves. The Safe Haven Law provides an option for a woman who feels trapped with no way out, but it should only be a last resort. There are other options that a woman can seek out before the birth of her baby.
Using the Safe Haven Law should be a last resort only. True Care would like for every pregnant women to get needed resources and medical care prior to giving birth. Waiting until the baby is born to seek “Safe Haven” puts both mom and baby at risk for medical complications and allows a woman to go through an entire pregnancy living in fear. If you or someone you know is pregnant and afraid, True Care Women’s Resource Center can help. We provide pregnancy testing and education on all pregnancy options. We confirm pregnancy viability and dating with an ultrasound. We have a resource coordinator to help plug our patients into the community agencies that she needs including a physician referral. We walk through a pregnancy with a woman and let her know she isn’t alone. We are here to help. All of our services are free of charge and confidential. Give us a call at 307-473-2273 or fill out our contact form.