A crowd turned out to support A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee on June 28 at Applebee’s in Alcoa. The customers brought their appetites and enjoyed a pancake breakfast while supporting the organization that protects unwanted newborns.
The mission of A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee, Inc., is to protect the most newborn infants by educating and informing women and communities of safe, secret options for mothers who want to surrender their babies under the Safe Haven Law.
The push for the law came about when, in October 2000, a newborn baby girl was found dead in a shed in Townsend. Her 14 year-old mother had concealed a pregnancy and given birth to the baby alone at her home. In order to hide the pregnancy and the birth, she abandoned the baby in a neighbor’s shed. The baby died of severe dehydration, and the teen was later charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to state custody.
Touched by the tragedy of this, Shawna McConnell and Lisa Yount, both of Blount County, were determined that no other babies would fall victim to similar circumstances. The efforts of Shawna, Lisa, Tennessee State Representatives Doug Overbey and Joe McCord, Former State Senator Bill Clabough, Blount County Sheriff Jim Berrong, District Attorney Generals Mike Flynn and Randy Nichols, and other legislators resulted in the passage of Tennessee’s Safe Haven Law in June 2001.
The law, enacted on July 1, 2001, allows mothers of newborns to surrender unharmed babies to designated medical facilities within 72 hours of birth without fear of being prosecuted. As long as the baby is unharmed and the mother acts within 72 hours of birth, she will not be prosecuted and is assured of complete confidentiality.
The Safe Haven Law has saved at least 21 babies since 2004.
The next Secret Safe Place fundraiser will be the Lifesaver Luau on Aug. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Courtsouth Beach, Alcoa Highway. Tickets are available at Blount Today. For more information, call 865-254-2208.