Friends say new mom gave birth at friend's home, threw baby in trashcan; friend rescued baby

Friends of a woman from Highland Township who is now facing assault and child abuse charges after her newborn was dropped off at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit last week say she's not a bad person but she does have some issues.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office charged Jennifer Woodard on Thursday with assault with intent to murder, child abandonment, and second-degree child abuse.

Saturday morning she was released from the hospital and has been booked into the jail. 

A newborn girl was dropped off with a stranger outside the hospital Thursday, Sept. 10 around 9:30 p.m. An unknown man pulled up to the hospital, got out of his car, and asked the stranger, who was entering, to hold the baby until he parked. The man left and never came back. 

Police put out a call to identify the man or the baby's mother, as they were concerned for her wellbeing. Police said they had identified the mother earlier this week and that she was arrested on Sept. 13. 

Her friends say she's not a bad person and were concerned about their friend.

"All I kept thinking of was she was walking around hemorrhaging out somewhere and didn't know what was going on with her body," one friend said.

Both asked not to be identified.

"Me and her asked her to go to the hospital on several occasions. She didn't want to go," the friend he believes she was scared.

Authorities said she gave birth at a friend's home and dumped the baby girl in the trash. An acquaintance found the baby, drove her to Sinai Grace for treatment and left her with a man visiting a relative at the hospital. 

The baby was cold to the touch, lost a lot of blood, and needed a blood transfusion but is expected to be okay. 
It didn't have to be this way. Heather Burner is the executive director of National Safe Haven Alliance, a non-profit that provides parents facing unplanned pregnancies with safe alternatives that prevent infant abandonment. Burner says more could have been done to educate her before the baby was born.

"What comes to my mind first is how could we have reached this woman," she said. "If this mom had heard of us or had heard of Safe Haven and called our hotline, we have a crisis support team that does the research for her and we would find the resources as far as pregnancy centers, OB care, any type of services that she was needing."
Michigan's Save Haven Law allows parents to safely and legally surrender their newborns that are no more than 3 days old by giving them to uniformed employees at any hospital, fire department, police station, or to a paramedic. Surrendered newborns are placed for adoption. 
Woodard's friends say they pray the baby will have a chance at a life in a loving home.

For more information about the Safe Haven Alliance, call 1-888-510-BABY or text Safe Haven to 313131.

Authorities credit the friend who rescued the baby and the man at Sinai-Grace for saving the baby's life.