Pro-Life Woman Who Battles Infanticide Wins $27M California Lottery

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 8, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Woman Who Battles Infanticide Wins $27M California Lottery Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 8, 2004

Los Angeles, CA ( — Debi Faris-Cifelli is a one-woman army in the battle against infanticides in California. She helped win passage of the state’s Safe Haven law back in 2001 and has worked to help women learn about the provision ever since.

The goal of safe haven laws, passed in nearly every state in the nation, is to keep newborn children from becoming victims of infanticide. On increasingly frequent occasions, scared teen parents will abandon their newly-born children rather than seeking help to raise the baby.

Unfortunately, some choose not to follow the law, which allows them to leave a newborn at a police or fire station or with a local hospital — without legal culpability.

That’s where Debi and her Garden of Angels comes in to play.

The Garden is a tiny cemetery in the Los Angeles area where Debi has buried dozens of newborn babies who died after abandonment.

"In 1996, while I had one eye on dinner and the other on the evening news, I heard a story that would change my life," Debi says about why she created the organization. "I stood frozen as I listened to the reporter’s account of the tragedy…a newborn baby boy had been stuffed into a duffel bag and tossed from a speeding car along a freeway."

"I couldn’t move, I just kept thinking about this child and wondering how we could have become a society that just throws their babies away as if they were a piece of trash," Faris-Cifelli explains.

That new report led Debi to contact local authorities and she asked for the baby to be released to her and her husband Steve to receive a proper burial.

While waiting for bureaucratic red tape to be processed, another newborn was found abandoned. Debi knew she had found her calling.

Since then, Garden of Angels has struggled on a small budget in its attempt to bury abandoned infants and encourage young parents to save the lives of their babies by leaving them with an agency that will provide them with proper care and an adoptive family.

That struggle has ended now that Debi is the winner of $27 million in the California state lottery.

"Maybe it’s the children saying, ‘Thank you’ for taking care of them when nobody else would,” Faris-Cifelli told the Associated Press. "It’s a gift and one for which we feel an awesome responsibility.”

She plans to use much of the money to promote Garden of Angels and help California promote the law. The state dedicates merely $1.5 million to tout it, not enough to purchase a statewide television commercial.

The law needs Debi’s support.

Since the California safe haven law went into effect, 67 babies have been surrendered. During the same time, Debi has buried 70 others.

"This law does work, but it works when there is some kind of campaign going along with it,” Faris-Cifelli told AP. "It just hurts me that we don’t talk about it until there’s a baby who’s lost its life."

Related web sites:
Garden of Angels –