By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4)– Following the death of a newborn baby, allegedly at the hands of her 16-year-old mother, an advocacy group is making a plea to expectant mothers across the state. You have options.
“This is exactly the situation that the Safe Haven law is designed to prevent. Colorado’s Safe Haven law allows a parent to hand over a newborn to an employee at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked. A mother who has been hiding her pregnancy can protect her secret while also protecting her baby,” said Linda Prudhomme, Executive Director of Colorado Safe Haven for Newborns.
The Safe Haven Law was put in place in Colorado in 2000 and since March of 2016, has saved the lives of 21 babies.
It allows a parent to hand over an infant, up to 72-hours-old, to an employee at any fire station or hospital. As long as the infant is unharmed, there are no charges and no questions.
Heather Hanley says the law works. She knows from personal experience. It was just over three years ago that Hanely took a Safe Haven newborn into her care.
“We just got a regular phone call through the county and we didn’t know at that point that she had been left at the fire station,” said Hanley.
Ava was born at a motel off at a Colfax and dropped off at a Denver fire station. She was not well, Ava’s mother struggled with drug addiction. The firefighters rushed her to the hospital.
“She struggled a lot with sickness right off the bat. She needed a blood transfusion, all kinds of things.”
Today, you would never know. Ava is a happy, energetic 3-year-old.
The Hanleys fell in love and legally made Ava part of the family.
Colorado Safe Haven for Newborns gave Ava a new life and so did the firefighters who saved her. On her first birthday, she had the chance to meet her heroes once again.
“To be able to meet her again when she’s thriving and walking to them and smiling, that meant a lot to them too, as much as it did to us,” said Hanley.
Hanley now deals closely with Safe Haven and wants expectant mothers everywhere to know about the law. Many other states across the country have the Safe Haven Law.
“If you’re scared and you’re alone and you have no support system, no one is going to ask you any questions,” said Hanley.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.