March 16, 2018

Be Our Guest / Sherry Foushee

National Safe Haven Alliance aims to help birth mothers, newborns

In 1998, a newborn baby was put into a garbage bag and placed into a dumpster outside a medical center. The mother was unable to care for her child. This little girl’s life was saved because of a caring construction worker who heard her cries and was able to get her medical care in time.

Twenty years later, this very grateful young lady, Morgan Hill, is an advocate for a life-saving program called The Safe Haven for Newborns.

The first Safe Haven laws were enacted in 1999, and within 10 years all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, also had laws. It is because of these laws that birth mothers have safely relinquished 3,527 newborns in the last 19 years.

In that same stretch of time, 1,393 babies were illegally abandoned nationally, more than 750 of whom died before they were found, according to the statistics kept by the National Safe Haven Alliance. Just last month, four infants who were abandoned died.

For Hill, the Safe Haven laws that have come into existence since her birth offer a ray of hope for expectant mothers in a crisis situation.

Safe Haven provides safe alternatives for parents who may be unable or unwilling to care for their infant by allowing them to anonymously relinquish an unharmed baby to a Safe Haven provider. In these situations, parents will not be prosecuted. This is why awareness of this life-saving program is so important.

Helping to promote this program is the National Safe Haven Alliance, which is a non-profit organization supporting state efforts to prevent infanticide and newborn abandonment. This happens through education and advocacy of the Safe Haven laws, and also by making communities aware of Safe Haven locations, including hospitals, fire stations, EMS and police stations.

In a hospital situation, the mother who is possibly feeling alone and frightened can have that personal contact. She has the comfort of placing her baby into the arms of a real person who will give that infant immediate care.

A mother using the Safe Haven law remembers forever the person she hands her baby to. She will remember these details because this nurse is the person who reassures her that her baby will be “OK.” The mother will carry this feeling with her the remainder of her life, and this makes her feel that she made a responsible, loving decision for her baby.

Indiana has 170 hospitals and many, if not all, are equipped to take care of the needs of a Safe Haven baby without prosecution of the parent.

The National Safe Haven Alliance has an informative website, as well as a national hotline, to help a mother in desperate need of help. The alliance’s mission is to continue to promote this legal and life-saving mission to save the little ones in every state, including Indiana.

For confidential information, visit www.nationalsafehavenalliance.org or call the alliance’s hotline at 1-888-510-2229.
 

(Sherry Foushee is a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, and a representative of the National Safe Haven Alliance in Indiana.)

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