Safe Haven advocate pushes for awareness following death of Port Jervis newborn
There's now a push for more awareness of the state's Safe Haven Law following the death of a newborn this week in Port Jervis.
The law gives birth mothers a legal alternative to abandonment.
For the past 20 years, Nassau County Medical Officer Tim Jaccard has dedicated his life to saving newborn babies who are unwanted by their birth mothers.
"When a woman is in crisis like that, we'll come anywhere to help a birth mother," he says.
Jaccard founded the National Safe Haven Alliance and helped write the Safe Haven Law in all 50 states, which gives a mother the option of leaving her child at a police department, firehouse or hospital with no questions asked.
His mission began in 1999 after responding to four back-to-back calls of infant deaths by abandonment. While he and his organization have helped hundreds of women and children since then, he says Tuesday's deadly case in Port Jervis is proof that so much more still needs to be done.
Jaccard says every year and a half to two years, 500 babies are abandoned nationwide and 100 of them are found deceased.
His organization currently runs entirely on donations and fundraising without any public funding - something he says would be vital to raise awareness of the law and reach mothers before it's too late.
"We have printed materials, but we're finding the internet is the key to contacting many of the birth mothers," he says.
Jaccard says he will personally continue to help anyone in need to give mothers and children in crisis hope.
"Please, if you're in trouble out there - there's help for you. Give a call," he says. "You can help save yourself and the life of the child. You don't need to go through this alone."