Live Action News previously reported on homicide charges filed against a teenaged father in the shooting death of his newborn son in a small Wisconsin town. Last week, the lifeless body of another child was tragically found in Perris, California, a mid-sized town 80 miles north of San Diego.
On January 22, local police received a call from a waste collection facility in Perris claiming that an employee had found a body in the trash. “Upon arrival, deputies discovered a deceased infant who was discarded in the trash and found at the location,” reported a police sergeant. A January 26 follow-up news report shared the gruesome results of the autopsy: the baby was alive, not a stillbirth, at the time that he or she was dumped in the garbage.
A representative for the county sheriff’s department noted that homicide investigators are now managing the case, and the department is encouraging anyone who knows of “someone who was recently pregnant and is no longer pregnant, but they have not been seen with a newborn baby” to contact Riverside County police.
California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law was enacted 20 years ago, and expressly allows “a parent or legal guardian to confidentially surrender an infant, three days old or younger, to any hospital emergency room or other designated Safe Surrender site.” The law notes that “as long as the baby has not been abused or neglected, the person may surrender the baby without fear of arrest or prosecution for child abandonment.” Acceptable drop-off locations include most fire departments, hospital emergency rooms, and other sites marked with “Safe Surrender” signage.
As Live Action News has previously noted, all 50 states have Safe Haven or ‘Baby Moses’ laws in place, allowing parents or others with legal custody to safely leave an infant up to a certain age at a designated location without fear of prosecution for child abandonment. States vary in the age at which a child may be surrendered; while parents or legal guardians have three days to take advantage of the Safe Haven law in California, Illinois law grants 30 days after birth and Texas allows up to 60 days. Each state law stipulates that the child must be unharmed.
Also growing in popularity are efforts to add Safe Haven baby boxes to communities, which go a step further than traditional Safe Haven laws by providing more anonymity for parents unable to care for their newborn children. The temperature-controlled boxes trigger a call to local 911 dispatchers when they are opened. In the United States, there are currently 56 active baby boxes.
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