Officials work to put ‘abandoned

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2000

baby’ plan into action


Staff Writer

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Dec. 13, 2000 10 PM

Abandoned babies being left at the hospital has not been a problem here, but situations in other areas of the state have forced lawmakers and medical personnel to take action.

In May 2000, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill that created secret safe places for newborns.

And, officials in Pike County are working to put their plan into action.

On Wednesday, officials gathered at Edge Regional Medical Center to discuss hospital procedures which will be refined and outlined for the public during a press conference scheduled for next week.

The Secret Safe Place legislation came about when Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson and the county’s Child Death Review Team reviewed 10 infant deaths over a two-year period.

Making a vow to stop the trend, Tyson and a television news reporter in Mobile teamed up to create A Secret Safe Place for Newborns.

Now, newborns up to 72 hours old can be taken to any local hospital’s emergency room and, as long as the child has not been abused, no questions are asked and no law enforcement investigation will be opened. In other words, total secrecy is assured.

Since the legislation was signed into law, six babies in Alabama have been saved because of the program and other states have passed similar legislation.

Hospital personnel, officials with the Department of Human Resources and law enforcement officers have all joined in the effort.

Paul Butler, acting director for the Pike County DHR, said the law gives hospital personnel immediate authority to treat the infant and keep it safe until DHR officials can petition the court for protective custody.

"We’re discussing the issue and making some headway," Butler said Wednesday.

A press conference on the issue is scheduled for Dec. 21.