Hutchinson legislator wants to strengthen Safe Haven law

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- A state lawmaker from Hutchinson has introduced legislation she believes will better ensure anonymity under the state's Safe Haven law.

Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, said a bill she introduced this week is in response to the Wichita Police Department asking the public in January to help identify a woman who dropped her newborn baby off at a Wichita hospital, provided a fake name and left.

Police said at the time they were concerned for the woman's health and wanted to make sure she was okay. Pauls said she is concerned the release of surveillance photos of the woman may discourage women from leaving babies they do not believe they can care for at a safe location. Pauls said that could lead to an increase in infants being left for dead in trash dumpsters and other locations.

The bill amends Kansas' current Safe Haven law by clarifying anybody voluntarily leaving an infant at a fire station, health department or a hospital cannot be forced to reveal any identifying information. If the bill becomes law, employees of any facility where a child is left cannot be forced to reveal information about the person who delivered the child.

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