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Lawmakers consider changes to state safe haven law

By Pilar Pedraza, ppedraza@kwch.com
Published On: Feb 18 2014 08:12:57 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 18 2014 08:13:30 PM CST
TOPEKA, Kan. -

Kansas lawmakers are considering a bill to protect anonimity under the state's safe haven law.

The measure comes after a Wichita hospital asked police for help finding a mother who left the hospital against medical advice. The woman had just given birth to a premature baby via cesarean section. The police shared the woman's picture with the public.

Many viewers at the time thought sharing the woman's photo was a violation of the law, including politicians who wrote it.

Rep. Janice Pauls, D-Hutchinson, said the safe haven law should protect the parent's identity. However, under the proposal, there are exceptions for abuse cases, and when the caretaker thinks there is an overriding necessity.

"We all thought that was clear in the statute," Pauls said. "Well, it's not clear in the statute that you don't turn that information over."

Pauls has introduced a bill that prohibits law enforcement or medical personnel from identifying parents. She made her case before a house committee Tuesday. No one spoke against the measure.

"You don't want to discourage someone from bringing their child to a safe place, as opposed to throwing a poor baby into the garbage can," she said.

Pauls expects the bill to move on to the House floor for a vote early next week.

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