UPDATE: Police defend decision to release woman's photo

By: KAKE News - Email
By: KAKE News - Email

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WICHITA, Kan. — The Wichita Police Department is defending their decision to release the photo of a woman who left her newborn at an area hospital earlier this week.

Police said they needed to check the new mother's welfare because she hadn't been medically cleared to leave by hospital staff. After the photo was released, she was found and is reportedly doing well.

The police department said they have received criticism for releasing her photo, but maintained that they didn't do anything wrong. They say that although the Kansas version of the Safe Haven Law guarantees that you won't be prosecuted, it does not guarantee anonymity.

"Our goals were accomplished with the help of citizens," said Lt. Doug Nolte.

Several others have posted differing views, saying the department's decision to release the photo will deter others from using the Safe Haven program in the future.

What are your thoughts?

Previous story:

Wichita police have found the woman who allegedly left her newborn at a local hospital on Tuesday.

In a statement, Lt. Doug Nolte said, "Earlier this evening, because of the public’s assistance we were able to find the unidentified woman and her health and well-being are fine. We want to thank the public for their concern and help."

Earlier today, police had issued a plea to help find the woman who they believed may still need medical attention.

Wichita Police released a statement this afternoon. “The Wichita Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating this unidentified woman to check her health and well-being. We don’t expect there to be any prosecution for leaving the child at a safe location.”

According to Wichita Police, the woman gave birth on the evening of January 20 at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph. She left the hospital the next morning without being medically cleared.

She hasn't been located because she checked in under a fake name.

The case falls under the Safe Haven law, which states that a person can leave their baby of up to 45 days old with an employee at any medical facility, fire department, city or county health department in Kansas.

However, authorities are concerned for the woman's well-being since she left against doctor's orders so soon after giving birth.

The baby was born six weeks premature and is being treated in the hospital's NICU, but is listed in stable condition.

Kansas Statutes Annotated > Chapter 38. > Article 22.

38-2282. Newborn infant protection act.

(a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the newborn infant protection act.

(b) A parent or other person having lawful custody of an infant which is 45 days old or younger and which has not suffered bodily harm may surrender physical custody of the infant to any employee who is on duty at a fire station, city or county health department or medical care facility as defined by K.S.A. 65-425, and amendments thereto. Such employee shall take physical custody of an infant surrendered pursuant to this section.

(c) As soon as possible after a person takes physical custody of an infant under this section, such person shall notify a local law enforcement agency that the person has taken physical custody of an infant pursuant to this section. Upon receipt of such notice a law enforcement

officer from such law enforcement agency shall take custody of the infant as an abandoned child. The law enforcement agency shall deliver the infant to a facility or person designated by the secretary pursuant to K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 38-2232, and amendments thereto.

(d) Any person, city or county or agency thereof or medical care facility taking physical custody of an infant surrendered pursuant to this section shall perform any act necessary to protect

the physical health or safety of the infant, and shall be immune from liability for any injury to the infant that may result therefrom.

(e) Upon request, all medical records of the infant shall be made available to the department of social and rehabilitation services and given to the person awarded custody of such infant.

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