LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - A Lexington woman is charged with homicide by child abuse after investigators say she placed her newborn daughter in a trash bag to die just minutes after giving birth Friday night.
According to an arrest warrant, 21-year-old Brennan Geller gave birth to the baby girl late Friday night inside her car. Deputies said she then wrapped the baby in a black plastic trash bag and placed it on the floorboard of her vehicle.
She then is accused of driving home and not telling her mother, who she lived with, about the baby. Early Saturday morning, Geller was taken to the hospital for blood loss, where deputies claimed she did not tell the medical staff about the infant in her car. Deputies found the deceased newborn several hours later.
However, a South Carolina law is designed to prevent this kind of tragedy.
According to the Department of Social Services, Daniel's Law is named for an infant boy who survived after being buried in a landfill soon after his birth. Nurses named him Daniel as he recovered at a hospital. The law was enacted to prevent similar dangerous and often fatal abandonment.
Under the law, mothers can surrender their unharmed newborn baby at a designated location. These locations, known under the law as safe havens, ensure the child is cared for and eventually adopted. Safe havens can include hospitals, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and places of worship.
Amanda Whittle, who works as an attorney within DSS, said there is one catch if a parent chooses to abandon a child safely at a designated location.
"The safe haven must be manned," she said. "So it must be open or have people working inside. If you d rop a baby off at a fire department and there is no one there, that doesn't fit under the law."
Whittle said Daniel's Law is meant to be a safe, non-criminal and non-shameful way for a mother to abandon her child.
"The idea is this person can do this confidentially and safely when they're at a point in their lives when they feel like they can't take care of this baby," she said.
The Midlands is also home to several pregnancy care centers such as Daybreak Lifecare Center. Patients can receive free medical exams, parenting classes, and material necessities before the baby is born.
"You are brave and you can do this, we want you to be in power and make well-educated decisions here and don't be pressured into anything," Linzy Laird, director of client services at Daybreak Lifecare Center, said.
Laird said many of the women who utilize the center are in their 20s and 30s, often single mothers-to-be and are usually riddled with fear and anxiety. But often times, Laird said they leave with a clearer idea of what the future will look like for their baby.
"There are plenty of women out there that are struggling with a surprise pregnancy and they need to know there's somewhere they can go to talk, that is safe and there are resources," she said.
According to an arrest warrant for Geller, she provided investigators with a written confession admitting to the crime.