Georgia’s Safe Haven law

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, January 10, 2019

On Sunday, a deceased newborn girl was found inside a cooler on a country road in the middle of Troup County.

It’s the kind of news no one ever expects to read or write about, and it’s understandably caused a lot of unrest in our community. An autopsy performed on Tuesday provided few answers, but it did tell us that the baby was full-term and had no obvious signs of trauma or injury. A cause of death has still not been determined and may not be for several weeks.

Right now, there are more unanswered questions than known facts. All we know is that this baby, approximately a few days to a few weeks old, was found inside of a brightly colored watermelon cooler in relatively plain sight near the road. According to police, the cooler had been in that location for several days. Many of us have struggled to come to terms with the facts of the case.

However, instead of making guesses as to what happened and why, all of us can do our part to help make sure this never happens again in Troup County or anywhere else.

Georgia, like all 50 states, has a Safe Haven law on the books. The law allows a mother or father to leave their newborn at a medical facility, fire station or police station in the state with no questions asked.

A broader sense of awareness related to this law and the ramifications it brings very well could help ensure nothing like this happens again. The only requirements to be in compliance with the Safe Haven law in Georgia are that the baby be left within 30 days of birth and that the newborn is left with an employee at the facility. As long as the parent meets this requirement, there won’t be any criminal charges.

The parent doesn’t even have to give identification, although Safe Haven facilities will collect any information provided. The nuances of the law do vary from state to state.

The story has been picked up on news sites all around the state and country, but at the time of this writing, nothing has been released leading us to believe anyone has come forward with information. Based on an internet search, the bag identified in this case appears to only be sold at one retail chain, although it’s possible it was a gift or was purchased second hand. It’s the kind of bag that you might remember someone owning.

We’ll publish any new information we receive on this case as it becomes available from the proper sources. Until then, do your part to make sure others know of Georgia’s Safe Haven law, and please, if you know something related to this specific case call the Troup County Sheriff’s Office and provide that information to authorities.