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After Tragic Loss Of Baby, Renewed Awareness Of State’s Safe Haven Law

April 03, 2017

After the discovery of a baby’s body in a Harwinton reservoir March 21, advocates and state lawmakers are speaking out to bring more awareness to the state’s Safe Haven Law that allows parents to drop off newborns at hospital emergency departments — no questions asked.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have Safe Haven laws in varying degrees with the goal of protecting newborns from abandonment and infanticide. Connecticut passed its Safe Haven Law in 2000.

William Horgan, associate chief of the Backus Emergency Department, agrees that more awareness about the law is needed.

“Lack of awareness is always pointed to when there’s a bad outcome,” he says.  “We’re always trying to find ways to get the word out more. We need to make sure that social service organizations and OBGYN offices that have direct contact with mothers [at risk for abandoning their children] know there is a safe, no questions asked option available for their clients and patients.”

Horgan, whose wife was handed one of the first babies under the law when she was working as a physician assistant at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, says he doesn’t recall a baby being left at the Backus Emergency Department but says the law remains a crucial public safety initiative.

“While the parent can remain completely anonymous,” he says, “sometimes you can get valuable health information from them about the child that can be helpful for [the Department of Children and Families and potential adoptive parents] moving forward.  But the mothers should never feel like they’re being pressured to give this information.”