January 15, 2019
House Human Services Committee
Testimony in Support of HB 1285
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is Linda Thorson. I am the State Director for Concerned Women for America (CWA) of North Dakota. I am here today on behalf of our North Dakota members in support of HB 1285.
There are several reasons we support this legislation. The changes to the Safe Haven law will help to further prevent tragic scenarios like those which occurred before parents were given immunity from being charged with child neglect.
As you may know, there are two cases in late 1990s that inspired North Dakota’s Save Haven Law. In 1998 a North Dakota State University student gave birth in a sorority house bathroom; she wrapped her child in a towel and left the baby under her bed where her baby died. When she returned from class, she put her dead baby in a campus trash bin.
The student entered an Alford plea to negligent homicide, though her baby’s body was never found. She was sentenced to three years of supervised probation under a plea agreement between her attorney and the Cass County State’s Attorney’s office.
In 1999 an infant, “Baby Moses” was found dead in a suitcase on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
Data from the North Dakota Health Department identifies 17 babies were given Safe Haven in 2017. This law, dedicated to eliminating harm and death to infants, also includes a public awareness campaign to provide information, public service announcements and educational materials to the public including medical providers, law enforcement and social service agencies.
When government and medical personnel are given the opportunity to offer a haven to a child in need of help, tragedies, as described from the late 1990s, are reduced, as is made clear from statistics that show these harbors are being used in our state. Increasing the number of harbors and providing awareness to the public is a law that protects human life.
As the state director for CWA of North Dakota I urge a “do pass” on HB1285.