A 21-year-old Illinois woman has been charged with attempted first-degree murder after giving birth and attempting to smother her baby boy to death. While Illinois has a safe haven law, allowing mothers to leave their babies in the care of a hospital or designated emergency response center, Xin Zeng chose instead to tie her newborn son inside a plastic bag and cover him in a pile of towels, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The brother of Xin Zeng, who called 911, knew his sister was pregnant and called because she was bleeding heavily. The Tribune reports:
When paramedics arrived, they could not find a baby and asked the woman, 21-year-old Xin Zeng, if she had given birth, said police Cmdr. Paul Yaras. He said Zeng refused to talk to investigators, so a fire lieutenant starting looking around the house.
“The paramedics didn’t know she had given birth at that point,” Yaras said. “They just knew she was bleeding all over the floor.”
Responders found a newborn baby boy in a plastic bag that had been tied closed with a towel wrapped around it, underneath a pile of towels in the bathroom, Yaras said.
“The baby was blue and lifeless,” Yaras said. “The lieutenant cut the baby out of the bag and gave the baby off to one of the other paramedics.”
Officials believe the baby was born five to 15 minutes before paramedics arrived.
Yaras said the boy began to breathe as he was being removed from the house. As he was being treated in the ambulance, “he started getting color,” Yaras said.
Commander Yaras doesn’t attempt to make excuses for this mother who attempted to murder her child, saying, “You’re in the middle of an area where we have rapid police and fire response… We have a police station and a fire station nearby. We have plenty of support out there for young mothers. It’s sad. She had the opportunity to get help for herself and get care as well. There’s help out there for them and they can get it.”
The same could be said for any woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy: there is support and help in the community, and there is no acceptable reason to purposefully kill a child, ever – not before birth, not after.
Sadly, there are many stories of women giving birth and disposing of their babies in various ways – including throwing them out of windows, despite the help that is available to them.
In the case of Xin Zeng, quick-thinking first responders saved this baby boy’s life by searching the premises after they realized the woman had delivered her baby. Yaras stated, “The fire personnel on scene said that if they had left at that point with the mother and without the baby, the baby would have been dead. He was, for all intents and purposes, dead at that point.”
Those involved with this particular case are calling the baby boy’s survival “a miracle.”