A tragedy barely averted

From The Philadelphia inquirer:

Newborn doing well after being found in box in North Philadelphia

By Mike Newall, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

The old sidewalk sweeper spotted the swollen cardboard box Wednesday morning on the curb in front of the Rainbow Day Care Center in North Philadelphia.

Homer Keller, 77, who works for a church that owns properties on the battered street, didn’t think anything of it, and, in the mild winter weather, raked two lots of tall grass, and swept outside a shuttered car wash, padlocked bar, and broken-windowed detail shop.

An hour later, he made his way back to the box. It was about a foot high and a foot wide, with some dirty clothing showing. He knocked on the day-care center door. Not ours, the staff told him.

He hefted the box, feeling its weight, and carried it to his trash pile.

First came whimpering.

“I thought it was cats,” Keller said Wednesday night on the porch of his Germantown home. “With the lots on that street, there’s cats always getting in the trash.”

Then he heard a baby crying.

Much more at the link. What Mr Keller found inside the box, wrapped up in some old clothing and a blanket, was a newborn baby girl, still covered with her mother’s blood, and with the umbilical cord still attached. Had the garbagemen come along, or the weather been colder, there would have been a real tragedy.

Pennsylvania has a “safe haven” law, and a mother can take her infant, up to four weeks of age, to any police station, fire station or hospital, and, as long as the baby does not show signs of child abuse, drop off the child and simply walk away, no questions asked.

Philadelphia Police are looking for the woman who did this, but surveillance footage from the area shows nothing. The article noted that it would be up to the District Attorney’s office to decide whether to file charges against the woman, if she is found.

Your editor hopes that the woman is found, and prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law. The public and private schools in Philadelphia let all students know about the safe haven law; it’s not some great public secret. But there’s obvious distrust of the police, specifically, and government in general, especially in the black community, in Philadelphia, and that distrust may be part of the reason the “mother” of this child simply abandoned her in a box rather than took her to a safe haven. The consequences of not taking advantage of the safe haven law have to be enforced and become known, to make it clear to women similarly situated that, whether they particularly trust the police or hospitals or not, it’s safer for them to go ahead and deliver their unwanted children to a safe haven than it is to simply abandon them.