Community leaders come together for babies
No questions asked

Wanda English Burnett

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 Indiana’s 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 noted.

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 asked.”

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 abuse.

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 noted.

“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 don’t have to ruin both their child’s life and their own,” Duncan concluded.

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 lobby.