Illinois Safe Haven urges ‘start freaking out’ over Supreme Court eyeing abortion rights

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In 1995, Morgan Hill was just a baby when she was dumped in a dumpster behind a hospital in Hoffman Estates.

Hill, who would become known as Baby Mary Grace, was thrown there by her birth mother, who had just given birth to her hours earlier. She was found wrapped in a bath towel, placed in a double-knotted plastic bag and placed in a trash can. The worker who found her was clearing the last debris from a construction site near the hospital.

“He found the bag, ran to the hospital, three nurses came out, opened [the bag] and found me,” Hill said at a press conference Wednesday. “The only damage done to me was a bump on my forehead caused by a metal rod resting on top of me, but other than that I was told I was nothing more than a little baby perfect.”

Dawn Geras, executive chair of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, said that since Illinois passed its Safe Haven Act in 2001 — which generally allows parents to abandon infants without criminal prosecution — she has warned that if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, it could cause devastating setbacks.

“The foundation takes no position [on Roe v. Wade], we believe that the child we are dealing with has already been born,” Geras said. “However, this new ruling that appears to be in place could increase the number of women who don’t know what to do and feel they have no alternative. All the more reason for us to start panicking.

Geras said that despite Illinois’ Safe Haven laws being in place for more than 20 years, many people are unaware that a new parent unable or unwilling to care for a baby can take the new born, up to 30 days, in hospital, fire station or police station. They won’t need to answer any questions and won’t face any legal repercussions.

Since the law was passed, Geras said, 149 infants have been safely abandoned, but there were still 90 illegally abandoned infants – half of those babies having been found dead.

At the press conference, Peggi D’Angelo, a representative of grassroots organization 100 Women Who Care, donated more than $10,000 to the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation to help raise awareness of the law.

Peggi D’Angelo (left), with 100 Women Who Care, presents a donation to Morgan Hill (middle) and Zoe, who accept Wednesday on behalf of the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation. May 4, 2022.

Geras said the money will largely go towards putting up signs in bus shelters promoting Safe Haven laws. Signs will have a QR code that will provide people with additional details.

” I do not think so [Safe Haven laws] are widely publicized or known,” Geras said. “If women don’t know the law, how can we expect them to use it?

Glen Brooks, director of community policing for the Chicago Police Department, said he has worked closely with the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation on the issue of safe abandonment of a newborn baby.

“As we know it [being] being a new mother can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s a situation where there seems to be no way through,” Brooks said. “One of the things Dawn has done is champion a cause that gives the new mother an option, and we’re very proud as a police department to have been on this journey with her.”

More importantly, Brooks said, if a new parent feels they have “no options,” they can turn the child over to an officer in any of their 22 city districts 24 hours a day. “no questions asked”.

“There is help there and you can go to one of our police stations, one of the fire stations, knock on the door, hand over the child and there is no questions asked,” Brooks said.

Brooks said it’s up to them to be vigilant in getting the message out to the public that there are safe alternatives to abandoning a baby.

For Hill, discovering she was found in a dumpster as a baby was the catalyst that prompted her to urge new parents to abandon newborns in a safe environment instead of abandoning them. in a dangerous place.

She is now a spokesperson for the foundation and the National Safe Haven Alliance.

“My biggest mission was to find a way to prevent what happened to me from happening to other children,” Hill said. “I will do everything possible to prevent what happened to me.”

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