Confusion surrounds baby surrender law in Modesto

One mother in San Joaquin County thought leaving her baby outside a fire station was close enough. Another put hers on the steps of a funeral home, mistaking it for a church.

Seven years after state legislators allowed parents to legally leave their newborns at hospital emergency rooms and other places, including fire stations in most California counties, child advocates around the region said most people still aren't aware of the law.

There is even confusion among law enforcement. After the arrest last month of 19-year-old Jessica Mae Betts, a Turlock woman charged with first- degree murder who authorities allege dumped her newborn daughter in a trash bin, Turlock police said there was a fire station just a mile and a half away where Betts could have safely surrendered her child within three days of the birth.

Betts, who remains in custody, has pleaded not guilty.

But the rules are different in Stanislaus County than in most of California.

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