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Safe Haven Law aimed to protect unwanted babies celebrates 15 year anniversary

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Posted at 3:59 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 21:19:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – 15 years ago, the state legislature passed the Safe Haven Law. They wanted to prevent new parents from abandoning their babies in unsafe places like garbage cans. On Monday, lawmakers, health leaders and child advocates gathered at the capitol to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the legislation.

Ammon Steinicke took a field trip to the State Capitol with mom and dad today. He doesn’t know it, but they’re celebrating a law that allowed him to become part of their family four years ago.

“He`s been probably the greatest gift that we could have ever received,” said Marcie Steinicke.

Gov. Gary Herbert declared today, Utah Newborn Safe Haven Day.

In 2001, Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, and former Sen. John Valentine led the charge on Capitol Hill. They couldn’t ignore the countless stories of women with newborn babies who had nowhere to turn.

“Infants being dropped in very unsafe places, abandoned in dumpsters, even near my house an infant found in a drawer in a bedroom. The mother delivered and just left the baby there,” said Rep. Arent.

Under the Safe Haven law, birth parents can anonymously give up custody of their newborn without facing any legal consequences. They can drop them off at a Utah hospital and will not be reported to the police.

“We know we've saved over 40 children. Think about that. That's a very large Kindergarten classroom,” said Rep. Arent.

Brett and Marcie Steinicke are grateful for Ammon’s birth mother for doing the right thing. Weeks after he was born, she contacted the Division of Child and Family Services and asked to meet the family.

“We just had the opportunity to tell her thank you for taking good care of yourself and giving him a safe place to be,” said Brett Steinicke.

Heather is also indebted to her son’s birth mother. She is trying to raise awareness about the law so women know they have options.

“If there was one thing that I could tell her, that one thing would be it worked, it really, really worked. He is safe, he is happy. He is healthy, he is so loved,” said Heather.

For more information about the Safe Haven Law and resources available click HERE.