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Official Laments Lack of Awareness of Pennsylvania’s ‘Safe Haven’ Baby Law

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By Pat Loeb and Dave Huddleston

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police say they still haven’t found the mother of a newborn baby girl found abandoned outside a North Philadelphia day care center on Wednesday (see previous story).

Police say they are frustrated because the mother could have taken advantage of the state’s “safe haven” law, but information about the law may not be reaching desperate mothers.

The law was passed in 2002 to give women a way to give up their babies safely, by taking them to a hospital.

But Anne Bale, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania’s welfare department, says the program’s budget for outreach is just $33,000 statewide.

“We are limited in our ability to get the word out in the way that people would probably like,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

The details of the law are so poorly understood that even Lt. Anthony McFadden of the Philadelphia Police Department’s special victims unit was confused about it.

baby found 21 Official Laments Lack of Awareness of Pennsylvanias Safe Haven Baby Law

(Credit: Philadelphia Police Dept.)

“She could have taken her to the closest police station, firehouse, or hospital, no questions asked,” McFadden said.  But Bale says only hospitals are considered safe havens in Pennsylvania — though she’s sure a police officer or firefighter would help.

Bale says that in all, 14 people have taken advantage of the law since its passage.

But in Philadelphia, in the last 15 months alone, three babies have been abandoned. One, in October, was found dead.

The baby girl, whom nurses have begun calling ‘Noel’, was found Wednesday was in good condition and will be placed in foster care when she’s able to leave the hospital.

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