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King County Council Members Want To Spread The Word About State’s 'Safe Haven' Law For Newborns

Lis Ferla

Earlier this year, a crying, naked newborn baby was found in a trash compactor in Everett, about less than half a mile away from a fire station. Now two King County Council Members are pushing for a public information campaign to let people know about the state’s 'Safe Haven' law

The law allows parents to surrender a newborn up to 72 hours after birth at places such as fire stations and hospitals, and the parent can do that anonymously and without fear of prosecution.

Jeanne Kohl-Welles sponsored the legislation when she was in the state Senate. Now she’s on the King County Council, and she and Council member Reagan Dunn are pushing for the county to do more to spread the word about the law. 

"I would very much like to see very visible notices about what are the options, the opportunities for individuals who, for whatever reason, do not want to or are not able to keep their newborn," Kohl-Welles said.

She said she’d like county workers to be able to hand out brochures about the law, for example at public health clinics. But there’s no funding attached to the measure she and Dunn have sponsored, and she said the county is facing a big budget shortfall.

But Kohl-Welles said she hopes the county can work with nonprofit organizations to spread the word and let pregnant women know that they do have the option of giving up the baby right after birth. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.