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Bill To Require Safe Haven Law Education Hits Snag In Committee

DENVER (CBS4) - An effort to save the lives of desperate moms and their newborn babies has fallen victim to politics at the State Capitol. At issue is a bill requiring schools to educate teenagers about Colorado's Safe Haven Law.

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Halle Burke (credit: CBS)

The law allows moms to leave newborns within 72 hours at fire stations or hospitals, no questions asked.

Among those testifying in favor of it is a teenager who says it saved her life. Halle Burke's mom dropped her off at a Westminster fire station when she was two days old.

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"This law is important to me because without it I'm not even sure where I'd be now."

But she noted the law can't work if girls don't know about it. Linda Prudhomme, the Executive Director of Colorado Safe Haven for Newborns, says it took effect before most teenagers were born.

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"We can't know which woman will feel desperate or frightened enough to leave an infant to die. Clearly, no girl plans to grow up and find herself in that position. That's why every woman of child-bearing age needs to know," Prudhomme said.

Which is why Sen. Jim Smallwood introduced a bill that requires schools to include the Safe Haven Law as part of sex education. Everyone on the committee said it was a good idea. The bill seemed on track to pass, then came a detour.

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The Democratic chair of the committee, Sen. Mike Foote, introduced an amendment to make the bill contingent on another bill in the House that deals with comprehensive sex education, but not the Safe Haven Law.

"My understanding from the bill sponsors that it's being discussed to be added," Foote said.

Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg accused Foote of hijacking the bill for political purposes.

"I'm having trouble understanding why we are creating such adversarial process."

In the end, the vote was delayed and supporters were dazed.

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"I don't honestly understand," Burke said.

The bill's sponsor is Republican. Democrats control the committee and are sponsoring the House bill that it would be contingent on.

Colorado Safe Haven for Newborns says the Safe Haven law has saved 60 babies since it took effect in 2000.

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