Here we go again. Jessica Blackham was at a circus performance and suddenly became ill. She went to the bathroom, started bleeding, ended up at a hospital and then developed amnesia when questioned about what happened. Simultaneously, a cleaning crew at the South Carolina arena found a newborn baby with his feet in the water and his head resting on the toilet rim. He was barely breathing and if Eder Serrano and his co-worker, Marco Calle had not pulled the six pound baby boy out of the water and resuscitated him, his 24-year-old mother, would be facing murder charges as opposed to unlawful neglect towards a child and felony child abuse.
How many different ways must we say Safe Haven Law so that families will finally receive the message? I had blogged about newborn abandonment less than a year ago when a baby was found in an airport trashcan (Trash Cans Were Not Meant to Hold Babies). A parent or agent of a parent can remain anonymous and surrender the baby to a “safe haven” which is usually a hospital, a healthcare facility, a fire or police station. Relinquishing the baby to a safe haven protects the parent from prosecution for abandonment or neglect if it is done within 72-hours of the baby’s birth and some states such as New York, Florida, Michigan allow longer periods of times. North Dakota and Missouri along the longest time and will accept an abandoned baby one year after its birth under the Safe Haven Law.
No one is exempt from crisis and such was probably the case with Blackham. She was the mother of a 4-year-old, married and allegedly estranged from her husband. Another man has come forward claiming paternity and accusing Blackham of feigning amnesia. Jason Jones alleges she complained about morning sickness on a social media website early in her pregnancy. A judge and a jury will have to sort out the sordid details and had she brought her newborn to a safe haven as opposed to allowing him to remain in a public toilet, the prosecutor would not be involved.
Years ago, the subject of domestic violence was not discussed in mixed company. Today, every health care professional must be proficient in its recognition in order to obtain credentials and licensure. The same principal should apply regarding the Safe Haven law and I challenge the American Congress of Obstetrician-Gynecologists to be at the forefront of this initiative. “Babies are born to live; not to die.” Life should not begin at the bottom of a toilet.