After a deceased newborn was found at an Applebee's restaurant in Irving last week, first responders continue to spread awareness of Texas' Baby Moses Law.
The Baby Moses Law, or Safe Haven Law, was created so unwanted babies 60 days old or younger, who are unharmed and safe, could be left at any hospital, fire station or with emergency medical service providers. The mother, or a third party, can leave the unharmed baby without questions asked and without the fear of facing any criminal charges.
The EMS providers include ambulances and free-standing emergency rooms. In Tarrant County, MedStar Mobile Healthcare said they have received babies under the Safe Haven Law.
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"The ability and the capabilities of the community to receive that child is ample and we encourage anyone who needs that service to make themselves available for that service," said MedStar Chief Strategic Integration Officer Matt Zavadsky.
Caretakers who leave babies will not be prosecuted for abandonment or neglect. Babies left at a fire or EMS station will be taken to a children's hospital to receive any medical attention they need.
MedStar receives about one baby a year through the Baby Moses Law, Zavadsky said.
"It's significant because the option was either that kid grows up in an environment that's not good for the child or it gets left somewhere and has a bad outcome," Zavadsky said. "So every time it happens, we praise that it happened because that's a much better outcome."
If taking a baby to one of the "Safe Baby Sites," the caretaker is encouraged to leave the baby physically in the hands of a person.
"Don't leave the baby outside in the environment or somewhere where we might not be able to find the baby in time," Zavadsky said. "We want to make sure the community can get that child medically cleared and then ready for adoption to a family that is probably waiting to care for and adopt that child."
In March 2019, a 6 pound baby girl was left in a flower pot at a cemetery in Carrollton. If she was born alive, her family could have legally handed her to someone at a hospital, emergency room, EMS station or a fire station. One mile from the cemetery was Carrollton’s Fire Station One.
The Texas Department of Family Protective Services said there were 218 illegal abandonments of children in 2018, with 56 in North Texas. Those numbers don't break down how many of the children were alive or their ages.
Over the last five years, the state says 59 babies were surrendered under the Safe Haven Law, 16 of them were in North Texas.
Since 1999, there have been over 2,000 babies saved with the Safe Haven program.
The Baby Safe Haven toll-free hotline is 1-888-510-BABY.
- Baby Safe Haven
- The Baby Moses Project
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services - Baby Moses Law
NBC 5 Reporter Diana Zoga contributed to this report