• How does Georgia's Safe Haven Law work? Questions grow after baby left in woods

    By: Richard Elliot

    Updated:

    FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has been following "baby India" since a Forsyth County deputy pulled the newborn, perhaps an hour old at the time, out of a plastic bag after she was found abandoned in the woods a few weeks ago.

    [WATCH: The moment deputies saved newborn wrapped in plastic bag]

    Channel 2’s Richard Elliot found out more about a Georgia law that would allow mothers to surrender newborns safely without question. 

    It’s called the Safe Haven Law, and it allows mothers to surrender their newborns within 30 days of birth, no ID required.

    The law has been on the books for almost 20 years, but it was expanded two years ago. Mothers are allowed to drop off babies at any fire station, police station or hospital.


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    In India’s case, she was found in the woods by a family and later rescued by Officer Terry Roper.

    [READ MORE: Deputy who rescued newborn in plastic bag says he did what any dad would do]

    “In my 16 years, I never experienced something like this. It’s the very first time I ever been involved in a call with an abandoned baby like this,” Roper said. "When I was able to get my gloves on, reached down in the bag, opened it a little further, I was able to tell that she was pretty healthy, that she was loud but didn’t have any clothes on."

    Elliot spoke with Sarah Keppen, of The Hope Box, an advocacy group that helped get the Safe Haven Law passed and expanded.

    She said she’s thankful deputies found India and believes that discovery will help shed light on the Safe Haven Law.

    “As someone was telling me earlier today, if that chain of events wouldn’t have happened the way it did, this baby wouldn’t have been found. Now tell me, does God have a plan for every child? Yes, he does,” Keppen said. “It’s about understanding that you do have options, and there’s a law, and you do not have to put your baby in woods. You don’t have to put them in a dumpster. There are options.”

    As part of that law, the parent cannot just leave a baby at a doorstep or in a bay. They have to physically hand it to someone inside.

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