An Iowa mother and grandfather were charged with first-degree murder Monday after police said they admitted to throwing a newborn baby boy in a trash bag and leaving him in a ditch.
Iowa has a safe haven law that allows a mother to safely surrender an infant to authorities if she cannot take care of the child herself. Similar laws across the U.S. have saved thousands of babies from infanticide. But many mothers are unaware of the life-affirming option and horrific infanticide cases still occur.
This week, police arrested and charged Megan K. Staude, 25, of Norfolk, and her father, Rodney A. Staude, 64, in the baby boy’s death, the AP reports. They could face up to life in prison, if convicted.
According to police, Megan Staude gave birth to the child at home on Feb. 24 and, two days later, she and the child’s grandfather abandoned the infant. Reports do not mention the child’s father.
Police said Megan Staude admitted that she did not care for the baby boy and he was alive when they put him in the trash bag, according to the Des Moines Register.
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Initially, police said the Staudes lied about the baby, claiming he had been born and died on the way to the hospital and they chose to bury him instead.
However, police said when they investigated the cemetery where Megan Staude said they buried her child, St. Johns Cemetery in Cumming, officers “did not notice any disturbed ground or signs of a fresh burial,” according to the Register.
According to police, both mother and grandfather later confessed that they put the baby boy in a trash bag and threw him away. Rodney Staude also led police to the ditch where they had thrown the baby’s body, and police found the trash bag with the body inside, the report continues.
Infanticide and infant abandonment are problems across the world.
Like abortion, infanticide destroys the life of a unique and valuable child who is fully dependent on his/her parents to survive. The pro-life movement works to protect newborns from infanticide as well as abortion by supporting safe haven laws, adoption and resources to help pregnant and parenting families.
All 50 states have safe haven laws that allow mothers to safely surrender their newborns to authorities, often at a police station or hospital, without repercussions as long as the infant is unharmed. Several states also have baby boxes installed in fire stations where women can safely surrender newborns. Typically, laws allow safe surrender within a certain time limit, such as up to 30 days after the baby’s birth.
In Iowa, the law allows parents to surrender their newborn up to 90 days after birth at a hospital or health care facility, or by calling 911. According to the state health department, more than 50 babies have been safely surrendered since the law went into effect in 2002.
According to Centers for Disease Control research, homicide is the 13th leading cause of death among infants in the United States. The study linked a decrease in infanticide to the passage of safe haven laws in all 50 states. According to the CDC, “an estimated 4,100 infants have been safely surrendered nationwide” through safe haven laws since 1999.