Unplanned Pregnancy

  • Parents may abandon healthy babies less than 72 hours old (3 days) without being subject to prosecution when the baby is given to an employee or volunteer at a hospital or fire station. The amnesty does not apply when babies are left at churches or other houses of worship.   (Washington State’s 2002 Newborn Safety Act)  
Safe Haven Laws prevent young mothers from abandoning newborns in places like dumpsters or bathrooms, where the babies are likely to die.  Our 2002 Newborn Safety Act law was designed to keep babies alive and to protect the mothers.  It allows all mothers to take their unwanted babies to a safe place, like a hospital or a fire department.  (Many other states also have a Safe Haven Law.)

A newborn baby nearly died when she was left outside of a fire station in sub-freezing weather for at least an hour, because the infant's mother left her baby outside without notifying the firefighters that her baby was there.  Remember - fire stations are a safe place to leave your newborn baby; however, anyone surrendering a child is asked to alert firefighters and provide health details on the child and parent.  Without alerting the crew is dangerous - at least ring the doorbell, or knock on the door, or make a phone call to alert the crew.  ("Firefighter finds baby left in cold," Caitlin Wilson, KNDO, NBC News, December 31, 2015) 
  • Unwed pregnancies will have a ripple effect in society for decades.  Their children begin life in homes that are poorer and more often dysfunctional.  
  • American teens have the highest birth rate among all developed countries, and their babies are more likely to be born prematurely or underweight than other newborns.  These children also are more likely to be raised in poverty, and more than twice as likely to have an unmarried mother.  (Public Health Seattle & King County) 
Statistics
  • Unintended pregnancies accounted for 38% of Spokane County births during 2009-2011. This rate does not include pregnancies that terminated prior to a live birth by either induced abortion or a fetal death. Unintended pregnancy was more likely among women with less than a high school education level, non-white women, and women on Medicaid.   (Spokane Counts 2015 report, Spokane Regional Health District)

  • 5 newborn infants were found dead and discarded in Spokane County between 1974 and 2001.  
  • Out of every 7 teen pregnancies in the U.S. in 2002, four ended with a live birth, two were aborted, and one ended in miscarriage.  (National Center for Health Statistics)  

  • Pregnancy and Anti-depressants. Canadian research is raising concerns about a link between autism and antidepressants.  They found that women taking antidepressants during the second or third trimester of pregnancy (a time that is a critical period for fetal brain development) had almost double the risk of having a child who would be diagnosed with autism by age 7.  Mothers who had taken antidepressants during their pregnancies had an 87% increased risk of having a child diagnosed with autism compared to those who did not use the drugs, the researchers concluded.  While that number may sound alarming, experts point out that it's important to keep the numbers in perspective, as the actual risk of a child developing autism is still low.  "We have to keep in mind that this is a relative risk. The prevalence of autism in the population is 1 percent," said Anick Bérard, PhD, who specializes in the field of pharmaceutical safety during pregnancy. "So that means an 87 percent increase in risk makes it go from 1 percent to about 1.87 percent."

    About 13% of American women take antidepressants during pregnancy.  Women who are depressed need to plan their pregnancies and inform themselves of the possible risks of the medications they are taking. Untreated depression can also have dire consequences for both mother and baby, as the mother may be more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs or have an increased risk of suicide.  Therefore, the risks and benefits of antidepressant use during pregnancy need to be considered carefully and discussed with a health are provider.  The full results are published in JAMA Pediatrics.  ("Antidepressant use in pregnancy increases risk of autism:  study,” by Angela Mulholland, CTV, Canadian TV News, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, December 14, 2015; and "Study finds link between autism and mother's antidepressant use," CBS This Morning, December 15, 2015)

What You Can Do
  • Teach others about the 2002 Newborn Safety Act.  Parents at home, and school sex education classes, must teach the option all mothers have to give up a baby under the 2002 Newborn Safety Act.  Visit the medical examiner’s Web site.  http://spokanecounty.org/medexaminer   
  • If you need advice or just want to talk, contact one of the organizations listed below. 

  • Women can protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy until about the age of 51-52.  About ¼ of women in the U.S. between ages 15 and 44 use the birth control pill to prevent pregnancy. The current birth control pill has a lower amount of estrogen, lowering the risk of health complications.

    Other contraceptive choices for women over 40 include:
    LARCS
    IUDs
    Implants
    The patch and the ring
    Shot/Injection
    Barrier methods
    (Source: Barbara Sadick, “Moving away from the pill”, The Spokesman-Review, 7-26-16)