Teen mother abandons newborn at hospital, flees; Infant taken into protective custody

UPDATE at 3:40 p.m.  The RPD this afternoon acknowledged that Wyoming is a “Safe Haven” State in which a parent may give up a child to a Fire Station, a hospital, police department or sheriff’s office without facing criminal charges. As such, the charges indicated in the story below will be dropped. Refer to Wyoming Statue 14-11-102 -103 for further information.

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton Police said a 19-year-old mother of a newborn from Fort Washakie will be charged with use of a controlled substance and abandoning a child after she fled SageWest Heath Care in Riverton after giving birth to a little girl. The woman is not in custody.

Riverton Police Captain Eric Murphy said the woman arrived at the hospital on Thursday morning at 8:30 just hours away from birthing the child. In routine tests, the mother tested positive for use of methamphetamine. After the baby was born at 4:43 p.m., the woman checked herself out of the hospital against the advice of doctors. The child was left behind in the care of the hospital.

Murphy said the RPD officer at the scene determined the child had been abandoned, and they took the baby into protective custody, legally, while leaving the child in the maternity ward for care. Eastern Shoshone Tribal Services was then able to take legal custody of the child for placement into a foster home. The baby is still at the hospital.

Murphy said he did not know if the baby was under the influence of methamphetamine. “Under Wyoming State Statute we cannot arrest the mother for child abuse, because state law clearly states that a child isn’t identified as such until is it born and takes it first breath outside of the mother. He said when the mother’s blood was tested, the baby had not yet been born.”