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Utah Celebrates 15-Year Anniversary Of Safe Haven Law

Whittney Evans
Heather with her son Sam and husband Treavor.

Utah’s Safe Haven Law has saved roughly 40 children since it went into effect 15 years ago. State officials hope the law will continue to encourage women to anonymously give up custody of their newborns rather than abandon them.  

Heather adopted Sam 14 years ago.  She asked that their last name not be used on the air.  

“I’ve thought a lot about my son’s birth mother and what she must have been going through when she found herself pregnant and in a situation where she couldn’t take care of the child that she was going to have,” Heather said.

Because of Utah’s Safe Haven Law, Sam’s birth mother was able to check into a hospital anonymously, safely give birth, and surrender the child to hospital officials.  Heather is eternally thankful that Sam is in her life.

“It really worked,” Heather said. “He is safe. He is happy. He is healthy. He is so loved. He knows about you and he knows exactly what you did for him. And he loves you for that.”

In 2001, Democratic Representative Patrice Arent sponsored the bill that would become Utah’s Safe Haven Law. It allows mothers of unwanted infants to be dropped off at hospitals without fear of prosecution. It’s now the law in all 50 states.

Julia Robertson is the director of the Utah Newborn Safe Haven with the Department of Health.

“You know, my worst day is when a baby is left in an unsafe place,” Robertson said. “Because I haven’t done my job. I haven’t gotten the awareness out.”

Robertson says once or twice a year, a newborn baby is abandoned in Utah. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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