Chicago Police

Discovery of Newborn's Body Prompts Illinois Baby Safe Haven Law Reminder

Police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office are investigating the baby's death.

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Chicago police are investigating after the body of a newborn was found inside a duffel bag near a fire station on the city's Near North Side, authorities said.

The remains of the male baby were found at about 5 a.m. Saturday outside the Chicago Fire Department station at North Orleans and West Hill streets. Larry Merritt, a CFD spokesman, told the Chicago Tribune that a firehouse crew discovered the bag covered in snow when they went outside to shovel snow.

Under Illinois' Baby Safe Haven Law, parents can hand their newborn off at hospitals, police or fire stations without fear of prosecution - if the baby is less than 30 days old.

The fire station near where the baby was found was one of the locations.

"I have anger, real anger and frustration that we’ve been trying to get the word out there for 20 years, the 20-year anniversary, and yet there was still a woman out there that didn’t know how to use the Baby Safe Haven Law," said Dawn Geras with the Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, a Chicago non-profit.

Some advocates have been pushing for options for mothers such as baby boxes, which allow for parents to safely surrender their newborn anonymously and without face-to-face interaction.

"We just have to make sure that these women know these options are available for them in order for them to use it," said Monica Kelsey, founder of the non-profit Safe Haven Baby Boxes, which has installed dozens of such baby boxes in states such as Indiana, Arkansas and Florida.

Baby boxes are installed in exterior walls of fire stations and hospitals, according to the organization's website. When an infant is placed inside, an alert is sent to medical personnel who respond within minutes.

Six babies were placed in Safe Haven Baby Boxes within the past year. To date, around 4,300 babies have been surrendered to Safe Haven locations.

Advocates say they just hope they can help prevent another death.

"I beg people listening help us save the next baby from dying needlessly," Geras said. "We can do this together, please help us get that word out."

Chicago police said its detectives and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office are investigating the baby's death.

No arrests have been made and no cause of death has been determined, according to police.

Associated Press/NBC Chicago
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