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CA - BABY LEFT AT MCH - Baby Safe Haven law works again!!!!

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  • CA - BABY LEFT AT MCH - Baby Safe Haven law works again!!!!

    By Michael P. Neufeld

    A healthy newborn baby girl was left at Mountains Community Hospital (MCH) last
    Wednesday about 4:20 p.m.

    An unknown young woman dropped off the seven-pound baby that was approximately
    two days old in the foyer of the emergency room. The child was wrapped in a
    T-shirt, a towel and had been placed in a pink laundry basket with handles.

    Helen Meyers, social services department manager at MCH, indicated that the
    baby measured 19-inches long. "The baby was examined by hospital staff and was
    determined to be in good health," Meyers reported.

    MCH personnel observed the baby for several hours before releasing the baby to
    San Bernardino County Child Protective Services.

    Under California law, authored by State Senator Jim Brulte, the mother of an
    infant 72-hours old or younger may surrender her infant - without fear of
    prosecution - at any public or private hospital emergency room. Voluntarily
    surrendering a child under Brulte's legislation is not considered child abuse
    or neglect.

    Mountains Community Hospital is one of 22 such medical facilities in San
    Bernardino County. Signs posted in English and Spanish in the emergency room
    foyer state the facility is an approved drop-off site.

    "We've had a policy and plan in place since Senator Brulte's legislation became
    law Jan. 1, 2001," Meyers stated. "But this is the first time we've had to work
    the plan and we're pleased the mother felt safe in using our services.
    Everything went perfectly.

    "It's a great law," Meyers continued, "and the baby girl is getting excellent
    care and will be placed in a licensed foster home while child welfare workers
    find her the best adoptive family."

    Brulte's legislation also allows the mother to change her mind within 14 days.
    However, the woman who dropped the baby off on Wednesday did not receive a
    duplicate of the coded, confidential ankle bracelet placed on the baby when it
    was admitted to MCH.

    "Our designated staff person also wasn't able to provide the woman surrendering
    the child with a medical information questionnaire that the person can fill out
    and mail in at a later date," Meyers added. "If the mother would like to
    confidentially call me on my private line (909) 336-3651 extension 3015, I'll
    be more than happy to take the information over the phone with no other
    questions asked. That medical information may help protect the child in later

    Senator Brulte's so-called "Safe Arms for Newborns" bill was enacted to help
    reduce the number of babies abandoned in California each year.

    "Young mothers who are scared and desperate," Brulte stated, "have a
    life-preserving alternative to safeguard their babies and give them a place
    where they will be cared for and appreciated.

    "I've written and voted on many pieces of legislation in my years in the
    Legislature," Brulte revealed. "But, I've never been more proud of any single
    piece of legislation than the Safe Arms for Newborns law."

    Brulte noted that the goal of the bill was to save the lives of newborns and
    give women who aren't ready the chance to opt out of motherhood. AT PRESS TIME:
    A man and a woman reportedly made themselves known to authorities to try and
    reclaim the baby left at Mountain Community Hospital. A spokesperson for Child
    Protective Services said they were unable to confirm or deny the contact or
    what hearings, if any, had been held to try and determine if the baby can be
    claimed by the couple. New patient confidentiality laws also prohibit Mountains
    Community Hospital authorities from commenting on the new development in the
    case.The State Senator's office is aware of numerous times a person has walked
    into a medical facility and voluntarily turned over an infant.

    The Garden of Angels organization, based in Yucaipa, reports that to date, just
    under 50 babies have safely been surrendered in California.

    "That's proof the legislation is working," Brulte explained. "Government can't
    solve every problem in society. But it's very gratifying and heartwarming to
    see a law created by government has served these mothers and protected these

    At least four babies have been left at hospitals in San Bernardino County since
    Brulte's legislation became law. The first was in August 2002 when a baby boy
    was left at St. Bernadine's Hospital in San Bernardino. Several days later, a
    newborn girl was handed over to personnel at Chico Medical Center. In June
    2003, an unidentified man dropped off a baby boy at the Arrowhead Regional
    Medical Center in Colton.

    Since 1996, Garden of Angels has buried the bodies of just under 70 abandoned
    and unclaimed children, just from Southern California alone. The organization's
    founder, Debi Faris, approached Senator Brulte requesting he write the

    "This law," Farris stated, "was created to SAVE the lives of future newborn

    Brulte told People magazine (December 2000), "She told me her story, and it was
    heartbreaking. Debi asked me to help put the Garden of Angels out of business."

    The State Senate and Assembly unanimously passed the law (Senate Bill 1368) in
    September 2000 and it became effective in January the following year.

    Forty-five other states currently have "Safe Arms for Newborns" legislation.
    The states presently without bills are Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nebraska
    and Vermont. State laws vary on the age of infants who may be relinquished. The
    ages range from 72-hours old or younger up to five days old or younger.

    For additional information about the "Safe Arms for Newborns" law visit

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