An Iowa woman has been charged with attempted murder after she left her newborn baby to die in a hospital bathroom despite the state having Safe Haven Laws which allow a mother to turn over her child to hospital workers within 14 days of birth without fear of facing abandonment charges. The 22-year-old woman, Ashley Hautzenrader, claims she didn’t know she was pregnant and that when she gave birth in the bathroom, she thought the baby was dead. Instead of alerting medical staff, the young mother attempted to flush the baby’s body down the toilet. When that didn’t work, she placed the newborn in a pillowcase and threw it in the trashcan. Fortunately, hospital staff found the child alive a short time later and was able to seek medical attention for the infant.
The Daily Mail reports that 22-year-old Ashley Hautzenrader has had her child endangerment charges upgraded to attempted murder charges after she threw her newborn baby into a trash can at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. The young woman claims that when she entered the bathroom at the hospital, she did not know she was pregnant. Therefore, she had no idea she was about to give birth on a toilet. Once the baby was born, Hautzenrader said the newborn never cried so she thought it was stillborn.
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) May 10, 2016
Instead of trying to have the baby revived by medical staff, the woman first attempted to flush the child down the toilet. When she was unable to get rid of the body in the toilet, Hautzenrader placed the infant in a pillowcase and threw the baby in the trash. After disposing of what the woman allegedly thought was a deceased infant, she cleaned herself up in the bathroom and left the scene. At no point did Ashley Hautzenrader inform staff that she had just given birth or alert them to the potentially stillborn infant in the garbage.
— Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC) May 10, 2016
Therefore, the Des Moines Register reveals the mother has been charged with attempted murder. Ashley was originally charged with child endangerment as the infant was found by hospital staff shortly after the woman left the premises. Staff were able to save the newborn but the condition of the child has not been released.
In Iowa, attempted murder is considered a Class B Felony which means that Ashley Hautzenrader could face up to 25 years in prison for leaving her newborn to die in the hospital bathroom. While police believe Hautzenrader left the child to die because the young mother did not want any more children, Iowa is a state that has Safe Haven Laws that would have allowed Ashley to turn the baby over to hospital staff without facing any charges.
“Iowa has a safe haven law, in place since 2002, that allows parents to leave an infant up to 14 days old at a hospital or other health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment, according to the Iowa Department of Human Services website. The law has applied to at least 20 children since it was enacted.”
While police indicate that Ashley did not want the baby, the young woman does have another child under her care. Ashley Hautzenrader had a daughter in 2014 and the child suffers from a series of medical issues. The mother has posted numerous photos to social media showing the child with breathing tubes and Ashley reportedly is in a child support dispute with the girl’s father.
Though the “unwanted” newborn is alive and being treated in the hospital, Hautzenrader has been ordered to have no contact with the infant and is slated to appear in court on June 9.
[Image via Johnson County Iowa Jail]