Analysis

Did Planned Parenthood’s designation as a ‘safe haven’ contribute to a newborn’s death?

Planned parenthood

A troubling case in North Carolina is raising questions about Safe Haven laws and which organizations should qualify as safe surrender locations. In 2010, a newborn girl was found abandoned at a Winston-Salem Planned Parenthood facility. Sadly, the infant had passed away, and the mother has now been identified, over a decade later.

An article published in 2012 in the Winston-Salem Journal disclosed that the baby seemed to be a few weeks premature, and was found deceased in a plastic storage bin outside of the abortion business. The infant was given a funeral by Lewisville United Methodist Church, and was nicknamed “Therese, the Little Flower.”

Last year, detectives reopened the case, and using new evidence, were able to identify the child’s mother: 44-year-old Jennifer McMillan Crow. She has since been charged with involuntary manslaughter. According to the doctor who performed the baby’s autopsy, the infant was breathing when she was born, and died of perinatal pneumonia and environmental hypothermia — indicating that her abandonment at Planned Parenthood likely directly led to her death.

Yet as pointed out by the Charlotte Observer, Planned Parenthood is designated as a “safe haven” location for infants in North Carolina, which raises numerous concerning questions.

READ: Teen abandoned as baby in China advocates for safe haven baby boxes

North Carolina’s Safe Surrender law allows an infant to be surrendered anonymously within the first week of life to law enforcement, social services, emergency personnel, or health centers. This also includes “community health centers,” which is ostensibly why Planned Parenthood is considered a safe haven where parents can surrender their newborns under the law. Yet Planned Parenthood is not a health care provider; it offers very few actual health care services and is not staffed 24/7. It is not clear if the mother simply misunderstood and thought she could leave the baby there, to be safely recovered… only to realize too late that there was no one there to take her.

For some, this tragedy also highlights the need for Safe Haven Baby Boxes — temperature-controlled, ventilated spaces which are monitored electronically. As soon as the outer door opens, 911 is notified, and when the door is closed, a sensor notifies emergency services. Had this been an option in 2012, perhaps Little Therese might still be alive today.

“For us as Christians, it’s a reminder that every life, no matter how small or brief, is precious in God’s eyes,” Rev. Paul Brown, pastor of Lewisville United Methodist Church, told the Winston-Salem Journal. “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come.’ Hearing that law enforcement is working toward justice in the case, we (will) continue to pray for healing and keep trusting in God’s promise that Little Therese is at peace in the arms of Jesus.”

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