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The Canadian Press

Ad seeks parents of abandoned baby

Days-old infant found in plastic bag at bus stop in British Columbia

By The Canadian Press, various media throughout Canada, December 19, 2004

VANCOUVER - In a last-ditch effort to find the mother of a baby girl left at a bus stop, the B.C. government published an advertisement in a local newspaper today.

The ad is a legal notice for the parents of Baby Jane Doe found abandoned three weeks ago.

The baby was two or three days old when she was found. A woman at the bus stop noticed something moving in a bag.

The woman called RCMP and the baby was taken to B.C. Children's Hospital.

The infant was initially on a ventilator for breathing difficulties but has since recovered and is in custody of the Ministry of Children and Families.

 The ministry will be making an application for a continuing custody order on Jan. 13.

"We give them (the parents) notice and that way they can come to court and argue, or tell the court why we shouldn't have custody of the child," said Deputy Minister Alison MacPhail.

"Because we don't know who the parents are or where they are, the judge has told us that the only way we can really give them that notice is to take out an ad in a newspaper."

B.C. Children's Minister Stan Hagen is recovering from prostate cancer surgery and was unavailable for comment.

Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan has said it's likely the mother won't be charged if she comes forward. However, she could not guarantee the woman would not be charged.

She said police recognize that abandoning the baby must have been an extremely difficult decision.

Both police and the ministry have said the most important aspect of the case now is gaining insight into the baby's medical history.

MacPhail said it's important to have the baby's medical information so any health issues which arise as she grows can be addressed.

"But it's also desirable to know something about the baby's heritage and culture because the child growing up is going to have questions about where she came from and know something of her own history."

The Baby Doe case has generated debate once again about safe haven laws, which Canada currently does not have in its legislation. Such laws establish places where women can leave babies without fear of prosecution.

In 1999, Texas was the first state in the United States to enact a safe haven law and established the Baby Moses Project where mothers could safely drop off their babies no questions asked.

In some cases, there is assurance the mother won't be charged with child abandonment.

Forty-five other states have followed suit.

Critics say the laws provide a no-hassle route for parental responsibility and encourage mothers to conceal their pregnancies, give birth unsafely and leave their children anonymously.

The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers is adamantly against safe havens laws also known as baby dump laws.

"Those who support such laws believe that they save the lives of innocent babies. We disagree with their assumed results of these laws while supporting their intent, to protect babies from harm," says the council on its website.

"The laws fail to serve either the best interests of unsupported mothers faced with unplanned pregnancies or the best interests of children."

MacPhail could not say why B.C. does not have similar laws but suggested the problem of abandoned babies in Canada is too rare to warrant legislation.

"It does seem to be a much Read More ..mmon occurrence in the States and I'm not sure why that is," she said.

"It really is a very unusual circumstance that a woman feels so desperate she can't simply come forward and put her baby up for adoption."

MacPhail said the ministry has received many calls about adoption but if the baby is to be put up for adoption she will likely go to parents who have been waiting at the top of a list of eager parents.