Safe Havens: Giving Babies a Fair Chance

By: Ilyssa Trussel
By: Ilyssa Trussel

As a labor and delivery nurse at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, Jeff Ahsinger says there's nothing better than bringing a child into this world. He also says there's nothing worse than leaving a newborn for dead.

"They are babies; they cannot care for themselves, and somebody will care for them. We would hope that they would find a place to leave that baby beside a toilet or a waste can or dumpster. "

Ahsinger is talking about a designated safe haven: a hospital, an emergency room, an EMS station or a firehouse.

"They can bring their infant along here and leave it with us and we have all the necessary supplies to take care of that infant until we can get further help here," said Tallahassee firefighter Scott Henderson.

Firefighters like Henderson say they're always ready because in 2000 a law was passed allowing mothers to abandon newborns at safe havens.

Advertisements like this let mothers know they can leave their newborns without facing charges.

"We just encourage families and women to be aware that this option is there," said Laura Levine with the Florida Department of Health.

Ahsinger says Tallahassee Memorial Hospital says doctors and nurses are equipped and ready to care for newborns.

"They're young, they cannot fend for themselves, so if they're left unattended at the house or in a car or outside, the elements we'll take their toll."

Of the 47 babies left at safe havens since the law took effect, only one happened in the Big Bend area. That was in Perry, Florida back in 2005 when a mother left her baby with a firefighter.


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