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Does Abandoned Newborn Qualify For Safe Haven Law?

Last updated on Friday, January 23, 2009

(STATEHOUSE) - The legislator who authored Indiana’s “Safe Haven” law says the case of a newborn abandoned in Lawrence illustrates the hardest part about making the law work.

All 50 states now have laws allowing a baby to be dropped off at a hospital or firehouse without explanation and without penalty.

Indiana Republican Chairman Murray Clark was a state senator in 2000 when an abandoned-baby case lent momentum to his safe-haven bill.

Clark says the problem has always been how to let mothers know the law exists. Texas uses billboards. Clark says he favored school guidance offices, on the theory that the most likely profile of someone using the law would be an unwed teenage mother.

Clark doesn't know how many times the law has been used, but says it's undoubtedly saved some lives by creating a safe option.

Formal charges are expected to be filed today against a 17-year-old Lawrence Central High School student who left her newborn on the porch of a home this week.

The baby was wrapped in a thin blanket and left in a shoebox, with a note.

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