Thursday, March 18, 2010

Left to die in a trash bin

Newborn's horrific death prompts Santa Barbara DA to launch public-awareness campaign on safe surrender law

A gruesome incident earlier this month in which a newborn infant was allegedly left to die in a Redondo Beach trash bin has led the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office to issue a press release in an attempt to increase public awareness of the Safely Surrendered Baby Law. 

According to the district attorney's press office, "On the morning of March 3, 2010, a baby girl was discovered in a trash bin in Redondo Beach. Two days later, Santa Barbara resident Jessie Lauren Canfield was arrested on suspicion of murder. Canfield confirmed that she gave birth to the baby while attending a party in Redondo Beach and had put the baby in the garbage bin." 

The district attorney's office said the incident underscores the need for better public awareness of the Safely Surrendered Baby Law "in the hopes of saving babies' lives and helping mothers in crisis." 

"The state law, which went into effect in 2001, was created to help bring an end to infant abandonment in California," said the DA's statement. "The law allows a mother or person with lawful custody to bring an unwanted baby three days old or younger to any hospital in Santa Barbara County without fear of prosecution for child abandonment. As of June of 2008, 251 babies have been safely surrendered in California." 

"Mothers need to know their options when making life or death decisions about their newborns," said Acting Assistant District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss. "Under the Safely Surrendered Baby Law, a mother can bring her newborn to a hospital and know, first and foremost, that her baby will be cared for, and second, that she can do so confidentially, legally and without fear of criminal prosecution." 

"At the hospital, a parent is not required to give their name when surrendering their baby within three days of birth," said the statement. "Once surrendered, a bracelet will be placed on the baby for identification and a matching bracelet will be given to the parent. The law allows for at least a 14-day consideration period, which begins the day the child is voluntarily surrendered. During this period, the person who surrendered the infant can return to the hospital to reclaim the child. The bracelet will help identify the child if the parent changes his or her mind during the cooling off period. Once safely surrendered to hospital personnel, the baby will be examined and given medical treatment, if needed. Then the baby will be placed in a foster home or pre-adoptive home." 

"Each year, more than 30,000 babies are abandoned illegally across the United States, left in dumpsters or public bathrooms, often resulting in the baby's death," said the press release from the District Attorney. "There is no single profile of a mother who abandons her baby. Often the mother is in denial about her pregnancy and she often conceals it from friends and family. Mothers who abandon their babies are typically in distress, afraid and feel as though they have nowhere to turn for help." 

For more information on the Safely Surrendered Baby program, 
Click Here.