Newborn dropoff undercores importance of Safe Baby Program
TPD: baby left in front of stranger's door at apartment complex
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – It’s disheartening: A baby girl dropped off at an apartment complex in a duffel bag, with her umbilical cord still attached. Thankfully, the newborn is safe tonight and in the care of Child Protective Services. But the incident has prompted officials to get the word out on the Safe Baby Program.
The Safe Baby Program allows anyone to hand over a newborn – up to 72-hours-old – to a healthcare professional at a hospital or clinic any time of day. A mother can drop off a baby at a hospital, clinic, a fire station or Casa de los Niños.
Medical professionals may ask certain questions – like how old the baby is or if the mother received prenatal care – but the person dropping the baby off is not required to answer. Officials emphasize that they maintain total anonymity and the mother will not get prosecuted, as long as the baby is healthy.
According to Tucson Police, a mother dropped off a baby in a duffel bag on October 20th at the complex located on the 200 block of East Prince Road. People living nearby were shocked.
“It gets me emotional, mad, upset – not even a dog would ever do that to its kid,” said Maria Garcia.
Carol Weigold, who oversees the program at Casa de los Niños, emphasized that it’s important for mothers to choose a drop-off location that is open 24/7 and has a medical professional on hand to take care of the baby.
“We’re trying to get the word out, but it’s a difficult topic to talk about. These are usually young women who are hiding their pregnancies and are fearful of friends and family finding out,” said Weigold said.
Previous cases in Tucson showed young mothers who made desperate choices.
Sarah Tatum, a former UA student, is now serving a five-year sentence for stuffing her baby in a plastic bag after giving birth in a dorm. The baby now has cerebral palsy.
The case against Denise Pesquiera was declared a mistrial in June. She was accused of murdering her son and throwing him in the trash.
Since the law went into effect in 2001, here have been at least seven baby drop offs at the University of Arizona Medical Center, and several at TMC. Accurate figures are difficult to come by statewide because hospitals often do not publicize dropoffs.
For more information, go to TucsonSafeBaby.org.