A 24-year-old Kearns woman has been charged with attempted murder after she discarded her infant child in a neighbor’s trash can Tuesday morning. In an effort to avoid cases like these, local elected officials, medical professionals and law enforcement officers came forward Tuesday afternoon to remind expectant mothers of their legal options.
Alica Englert told Unified Police officers she was afraid to tell her parents about her pregnancy so she discarded the baby girl hoping she would die.
The state’s Newborn Safe Haven Law allows mothers to give up infants at a hospital or emergency room without facing criminal charges. Alfred Romeo is a spokesperson for the safe haven program.
“We encourage women to take the baby to the hospital, drop off the baby, no questions, no police, so that the baby is in a safe place,” Englert says. “The hospital staff has been trained and they are ready to take care of the baby.”
Unfortunately, authorities say every year mothers choose to abandon their newborns without care. But there are plenty of resources, in addition to the safe haven law that can prevent these tragedies. Salt Lake County for instance, has a 24-hour crisis line expectant mothers can call for a variety of services.
Health Officials say mothers who abandoned their babies are typically very young and have been hiding their pregnancies. Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder says abandoning a child can result in a felony criminal charge, if there are associated neglect or abuse issues each of those separate incidents will also be charged.
“So the penalties are very severe and I think that is reflected as such because as a society we don’t tolerate the abuse of our children,” Winder says. “But again, in this case, what I hope is that people recognize that there are so many other resources available you can wholly avoid that.”
The baby girl found in Kearns remains in critical condition at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake. She was born Sunday.