CHICAGO – The news of a dead newborn baby being found by Wheaton area landscapers Monday morning grieved the head of a leading Chicagoland pregnancy help center, who reminded area residents that a special Illinois law and organizations provide help for those facing challenging pregnancies.
There is never a need to abandon a newborn, she said.
“Illinois’ Safe Haven law allows for an unharmed baby up to 30 days old to be left at a hospital or a staffed police or fire station, no questions asked,” said Susan Barrett, Executive Director of Aid for Women. “Additionally, crisis pregnancy centers – like Aid for Women – always have an open door for expectant mothers who are experiencing a crisis in their pregnancy.”
The 2001 Illinois law allows parents to surrender an infant up to 30 days old and not face prosecution for abandonment. The baby is taken to a hospital for a check-up, and then placed with pre-approved adoptive parents.
Barrett said that organizations such as Aid for Women exist solely to give pregnant women an option other than abortion or abandonment.
“We offer women the resources they need, from the initial pregnancy test to parenting support classes,” she said.
Aid for Women operates six counseling centers in the Chicagoland area that give women emotional and practical support when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, support groups and items such as baby formula, clothes and cribs are offered at no cost to the mother-to-be.
Additionally, Aid for Women maintains two residential programs for expectant and new mothers and their children, located in Chicago and Des Plaines. Mothers often use the time spent at Heather’s House and Monica’s House for obtaining job training or a college degree so they can provide for themselves and their children.
Their 24-hour hotline is 312.621.1100, their website is www.helpaidforwomen.org