Some say state's safe haven law rarely utilized following Kentucky mother's murder charge

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - This week, a Clay County woman was charged with murder after her baby was found in a garbage bag.

Neighbors were shocked after 21-year-old Amber Bowling's murder arrest, saying they would have helped if they had known it was needed.

"It's heartbreaking to hear something like this and to see something like this," said Sharon Wagers. "This is a quiet neighborhood, it's a nice place to live and I can't understand why someone would do something like this."

There is help. Kentucky's Safe Infants Act allows parents to leave babies younger than 30 days at a designated safe place. Safe places include police and fire departments, hospitals and places of worship.

Assistant Chief John Gosper, with the Lexington Fire Department, said in his 28 years on the department he's never seen a baby dropped off. He knows the importance of the option. His son is a safe haven baby. He was left at a hospital at birth.

"My wife and I had a long history of not being able to have children so we got into the foster care system," Gosper said. "To watch them grow and to thrive, I just so appreciate that parent that made that decision to give this child a chance."

Neighboring states have similar laws to Kentucky but have taken a step further.

"A woman does not have to hand the child to a person," Monica Kelsey, owner of Safe Haven Baby Boxes, said. "A lot of women in this country will walk into a fire station or a hospital and surrender their child and that's what we want, we want the face-to-face handoff, but we also know there are women out there who want this complete anonymity."

Safe Haven Baby Boxes allow parents to drop off a baby without talking to anyone. After the baby is placed inside the box an alarm sounds to notify personnel inside the building.

From a father who knows what it's like to love on a safe haven baby, Gosper urges if there are no other options to leave the baby at a safe place, promising it'll be protected.

"There are people out there who are willing to take care of these children," Gosper said.

Bowling is set to be in court Friday morning.



 
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