On the day before Christmas Eve, a newborn was found in the trash can at a Wal-Mart in New Roads. The mother, Kyandrea Thomas, was arrested after she checked herself in the hospital in Zachary. Thomas is in jail and if convicted, she could be facing a year in prison.
What probably happened is that Thomas didn’t think she could raise her child for whatever reason. But under Louisiana law, she had alternatives to just throwing the child away in the trash. Louisiana has a “Safe Haven” law that allows mothers who cannot raise their newborns to leave them in certain safe environments so they can be cared for, no questions asked.
The Department of Children and Family Services says what happened Friday could have been prevented, and Louisiana’s Safe Haven law could have kept Thomas out of jail.
The law says, if a parent is unable to care for their baby, or the baby’s well being is in danger, that parent can bring the newborn to a safe haven site, no questions asked.
The baby, up to 60 days old, must be left with an employee at a designated emergency care facility and tell that employee they want to utilize the Safe Haven Law.
“The main purpose of this law is to save children’s lives,” said DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters.
A “designated emergency care facility” includes any of the following:
- Licensed Hospitals
- Public Health Units
- Emergency Medical Service Providers
- Medical Clinics
- Fire Stations
- Police Stations
- Crisis Pregnancy Centers
- Child Advocacy Centers
The law was an important priority of Louisiana Right to Life when it was proposed and eventually passed by the Legislature. For awhile, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services was promoting the law with a TV advertising campaign.
Earlier this year, the law was utilized by a Baton Rouge mother who could no longer care for her newborn. She turned her child over to Baton Rouge firefighters and the child was placed in foster care. So far, 45 newborns have been saved under the Safe Haven law and adopted into loving homes.
Perhaps it’s time to spread more awareness of the Safe Haven law. The Legislature should also consider tightening the penalties for newborn abandonment because one year in prison just doesn’t seem long enough for leaving a baby in a trash can.
For more information, go to LouisianaSafeHaven.com.