Illinois's safe haven law allows parents to leave their baby with workers at designated location, with no questions asked
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A newborn baby boy was found dead inside a duffel bag outside a Near North Chicago fire station early Saturday morning, according to the Chicago Police Department.
Officers were called to the station in the 1000 block of North Orleans Street at around 5 a.m. after firefighters found a baby boy just steps from the fire station. By the time he was found, he was already passed away, police said.
"If the baby was placed there alive, that baby froze to death. It's Chicago. It gets cold at night. You can't leave a baby out to the elements," said Dawn Geras with the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation.
It's not yet clear how long the baby had been outside.
Geras said after 20 years of pushing for the Safe Haven law and getting the word out, she's devastated by the news.
"It makes me feel like I failed. There was one other woman out there who didn't know about the law or how to use it, and because of that, there's a dead baby on the door steps of a fire house. It shouldn't happen," she said.
"They were so close to doing the right thing. Why didn't they take that extra two steps," she said "I'm speechless. I don't know what to say anymore. I want to scream and yell."
Illinois's safe haven law allows parents to give up a newborn baby for adoption by leaving the baby with workers at a designated safe place with no questions asked, as long as the baby has not been hurt and is less than 30 days old. Those safe places are: hospitals, emergency care facilities, police stations and staffed fire stations.
According to the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, since the safe haven law passed in Illinois in 2001, 144 infants were brought to a safe haven. Another 89 were illegally abandoned and 50% of those did not survive.
"Illinois' Safe Haven law is a safe way for parents who make the difficult choice to give up a newborn for adoption. Handing over a newborn to a Firefighter or Paramedic directly at a firehouse can help facilitate the safest outcome. No questions asked and no judgment given," CFD said in a tweet.
"Talk about it, tell a friend, you might save a life," Geras said.
The Cook County medical examiner and Area 3 detectives are investigating.