Wednesday, July 10, 2002
District Attorney’s Office Reminds Parents of Alternative to Abandoning Babies
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A high-ranking official of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office yesterday reminded parents of newborn babies of a state law allowing them to leave their babies at a hospital with no questions asked.
Head Deputy Pam Booth of the District Attorney’s Family Violence Division stressed that there are safe alternatives for parents who choose not to keep their newborns.
Booth spoke out after an abandoned baby was found dead yesterday in a Carson recycling center.
Under the year-old “safe haven” law, parents of newborns can leave the baby at a hospital within 72 hours of his or her birth, with no questions or legal repercussions. A parent who abandons a baby faces criminal charges, including prosecution for murder if the baby dies.
“If someone has a baby and feels she just can’t care for it, she can go into any hospital within 72 hours and turn the baby over to a hospital employee,” Booth said in a statement. “She doesn’t have to give her name. She doesn’t have to give any information at all. Or she can call 911 and turn the baby over to paramedics.”
Within the last month, two other abandoned babies have been found in Los Angeles County at recycling facilities: one in Industry, another in Walnut Park.
The county’s Children’s Planning Commission, chaired by County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, reports 14 other abandoned newborns in Los Angeles County since the law was enacted.
Responding to the discovery of a baby in a dumpster in January, county supervisors appointed a task force, under the auspices of the Children’s Planning Council, to investigate how to better publicize “safe haven.”
Supervisors adopted the task force’s 12 suggestions on improving the law and ways of making the public aware of it at their June 4 meeting. The task force’s suggestions included extending the safe haven time period from 72 hours to five days, expanding safe haven sites to fire departments, and a multi-media campaign.
The plan is going through a “study period,” where various organizations including the District Attorney’s Office, law enforcement and fire departments are considering how to implement the suggestions, Booth said. The next time the item will appear before the supervisors is August.
Also yesterday, a Stockton teenager who gave birth to a baby boy in a Tahoe restroom was sentenced to nine months in jail. An autopsy could not prove that the baby had been born alive, so the teenage mother was only charged with a gross misdemeanor, it was reported.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company