Advocates Remind of Safe Haven Law after Newborns Found Unresponsive at Daycare Center

The discovery of two newborns at a daycare center on the campus of Northwestern Memorial Hospital has led Safe Haven law advocates to reiterate that parents can legally and safely surrender infants in Illinois.

According to authorities, a witness discovered two female newborns inside a bathroom of a child care center Thursday evening in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.

Dawn Geras, the founder of the Chicago-based non-profit the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation told NBC Chicago that the discovery broke her heart.

“I think about those babies that didn’t survive, they were twin girls. I mean, I just can’t imagine,” she stated. “This is a situation that didn’t have to happen.”

A source told NBC Chicago that the newborns were found unresponsive in a garbage bag and taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital where they were pronounced dead. The cause and manner of their deaths were expected to be released pending an autopsy by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Illinois’ Safe Haven law, the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act, allows parents to safely hand over their infant, while remaining anonymous and avoiding both civil and criminal liability.

“If you or somebody you know is pregnant and just had a baby and doesn’t know what to do and are panicking, don’t panic. There is help, just trust the baby Safe Haven law.” 

– Dawn Geras, Founder, Save Abandoned Babies Foundation

Under the law, which Geras pushed to get passed more than 20 years ago, parents can safely surrender their newborn – 30 days or younger – to emergency personnel.

“Just trust the law, go to a hospital, go to a firehouse, go to a police station, hand the baby over, and that’s all…You can walk away without answering any questions, and you are promised anonymity,” she said.

Advocates just hope they can get the word out to prevent another tragedy.

“It could have been so different,” Geras said.

Copyright © 2023 NBC 5 Chicago News