Watch CBS News

Lawmaker wonders if state could have helped woman whose newborns were found dead at daycare center

Twin newborns die; lawmaker pushes to remind expectant mothers about lifesaving laws
Twin newborns die; lawmaker pushes to remind expectant mothers about lifesaving laws 02:33

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As Chicago police investigate the deaths of twin newborn girls found in a garbage bag inside a daycare center in Streeterville on Thursday, an Illinois state lawmaker wants to know if and how the state failed the mother.

Police have only said they're treating the case as a death investigation, not ready to talk about whether the girls' mother could face criminal charges, as many questions remain unanswered in the deaths of the two babies.

One day after a cleaning crew found the girls in a daycare bathroom, the shock and disgust keep settling in.

"My first reaction was profound sadness," Illinois State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) said on Friday.

So far, the investigation has revealed the mother, who works at the Bernice Lavin Early Childhood Education Center – a daycare facility solely for employees and staff at Northwestern Medicine – went into labor while at work.

In a statement, center officials said the woman "experienced a medical emergency that resulted in the unanticipated delivery of newborn twin babies." 

The twin girls were taken to Lurie Children's Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. A cause of death had not been determined as of Friday afternoon, as more study and investigation is needed, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Feigenholtz said has grief for the twin girls, but she pointed out there's empathy for the mother "giving birth to two babies on the floor of a bathroom."

"We can do better. We have to," she said. "Something must of have happened in this woman's life to lead her to do what she did."

Feigenholtz questioned what more the state could have done to help the mother.

Illinois has a Safe Haven law allowing parents to bring newborns they can't care for to staffed police or fire stations, hospitals, or emergency care facilities, as long as the baby is no older than a month, no questions asked. But Feigenholtz questioned whether the mother in this case knew she had options.

"Was she unaware of social services and wrap-around services that we provide for new families and new moms in the State of Illinois, where you can have a baby in a hospital and be covered by health by our state health insurance? You know, what didn't she know? Where did we fail? Did she not know that she could place this child in a loving home?" said Feigenholtz, who was adopted herself.

This case is pushing her to work harder on getting the word out, as she hopes save the next unborn child, while giving that unexpected mother to be more options than just the Safe Haven Law.

"I'm not saying that I have the answer, but I am thinking about what the answer is," she said.

Police haven't said if the babies were full-term when they were born, or if they're handling the case as a criminal investigation.

Northwestern stressed that the woman who gave birth was not a Northwestern Medicine employee. She is employed by Bright Horizons daycare, which is providing emotional and mental health support to their employees.

Northwestern also has said "no daycare children were involved or impacted by the situation."

The childcare center said they're offering emotional and mental health support to all employees and their families.

"We ask for support and respect for everyone involved at this time as we grieve together and work to support each other and any ensuing investigation," a spokesperson said in an email.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.