leaders come together for babies
No questions asked
Monday morning, December 14 State
Representative Cleo Duncan was at the Ripley County Courthouse
on the first leg of her No Questions Asked press conference
to increase public awareness of Indianas Safe Haven Law.
The Safe Haven Law means a distressed parent can give up an unwanted
infant safely, legally and confidentially.
At this blessed time of year we want to make sure parents
who are in bad situations know they have an option, Duncan
Attending the press conference were Ripley County Sheriff Tom
Grills, who represented law enforcement and Tim Putnam, president
of Margaret Mary Community Hospital, Batesville - venues for parents
to take a child. When Duncan asked both men what would happen
when an infant is brought to them, they answered, no questions
Another venue to leave a baby that cannot be cared for by its
parents would be a fire station under the Safe Haven Law.
The infant must be less than 45 days old and show no signs of
The law protects the parent from arrest or prosecution for abandonment,
requires no names or records, makes medical treatment and social
services available to the birth mother, puts the child into the
custody of the Department of Child Services - which means the
child would be placed in a foster or pre-adoptive home.
We have so many good families waiting to adopt, Duncan
told those gathered on the first floor of the courthouse in Versailles.
There is never any reason for a baby to be abandoned.
She went on to say that statistics show the majority of abandoned
infants are born to young, unwed mothers, who hide their pregnancies
and do not know what else to do. Parenthood at any age is
a daunting responsibility. For a young woman with few resources
or support, the challenge can lead to panic and desperation.
Duncan told how the law came about after a young woman left her
baby at the entrance of Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis in a
beautiful little sleeper. She thought someone would find it, but
no body heard the baby and it froze to death. You could
see the little frozen tears on the baby, Duncan tearfully
Now there is absolutely no reason for a panic stricken individual
to abandon a baby, she emphatically reminded those gathered.
She reiterated the no questions asked campaign, saying
it will keep children safe.
All 50 states now have Safe Haven laws, which have saved an estimated
1,000 infants nationwide.
Indiana has had the law in place since 2000 with the National
Safe Haven Alliance reporting six lives saved. The sad news is
20 babies were illegally abandoned with seven babies dying.
If the Safe Haven Law is not followed, and a child is abandoned,
felony charges can be filed. If the outcome is death for the infant,
the punishment can range from 20 to 60 years in prison.
We need to spread the word that parents have an option.
They dont have to ruin both their childs life and
their own, Duncan concluded.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
State Representative Cleo Duncan, pictured right, was
bolstered by Sheriff Tom Grills and Tim Putnam, president
of Margaret Mary Community Hospital, as she spoke about
the Safe Haven Law in place to protect infants. The press
conference dubbed "No questions asked" was held
Monday morning in the Ripley County Courthouse first floor