Governor Bredesen declares April 8th Safe Haven Law Awareness Day

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Governor Phil Bredesen proclaims Tuesday as Safe Haven Law Awareness Day.

Since the law was enacted in 2001, 21 babies' lives statewide have been saved.

Twenty-two-year-old Jenna McConkey of old Oak Ridge is charged with killing her newborn son in December of 2007. Police say McConkey wrapped her baby's lifeless body in a towel and took him to her Knoxville doctor.

"I think it emphasizes the need for us to continue to get information out about the law," said Shannon McCloud from the Secret Safe Place for Newborns.

She's talking about the Safe Haven Law enacted in 2001. It allows a mother to take a newborn up to 3 days to 4 medical facilities only - a hospital, a birthing center, health department, and a walk in clinic. Some states include police and fire stations - Tennessee doesn't.

"We're not out to encourage young women who are pregnant to anonymously bring their babies in this is a last resort," McCloud said.

Tennessee is allowed to ask the mother questions, but she can refuse to answer without prosecution. What would make a mother hide her pregnancy then drop off her baby?

"Fear that someone's going to find out, fear of what's going to happen if someone does find out, so they just hide the pregnancy then when they have the baby, they just panic because they want to hide their secret," McCloud said.

So professionals encourage a scared, pregnant woman to tell someone, and if you can't then take the baby to a Safe Haven.

Jenna McConkey is charged with reckless homicide and aggravated child abuse in connection with the Dec. 20 death of her newborn son. The cause of death is not being released. McConkey is being held in the Anderson County Detention Center on $100,000 bond and will be arraigned April 25.

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