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Newborn baby found abandoned outside Savannah church

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A church musician attending a late-night rehearsal found a squirming bundle left outside the church was a newborn baby, wrapped in a bloody towel with its umbilical cord still attached.

Savannah-Chatham County police say the baby appeared to have been born just three hours before someone abandoned her at New Vision Baptist Church. Investigators were still trying to locate the newborn’s mother Wednesday.

John Anderson Jr., who found the baby girl, said he first thought she was a doll. Then the tiny figure began moving, and Anderson noticed its hair was wet.

‘‘When I moved closer I recognized that it was a baby, and I was kind of shocked and afraid at the same time,’’ said Anderson, who found the baby just before 10 p.m. Monday.

Paramedics took the newborn to Memorial Health University Medical Center, where she remained in good condition Wednesday and was eating and breathing on her own, said Sgt. Mike Wilson, a Savannah police spokesman.

The baby, which officials are calling Jane Doe, will be turned over to the Department of Family and Children Services after being released from the hospital.

Child abandonment is a misdemeanor in Georgia, punishable by up to a year in prison and fines up to $1,000.

However, a state law allows mothers to leave unwanted newborns with employees at hospitals or medical centers without facing legal consequences. Similar so-called ‘‘Safe Haven’’ laws have been adopted by all states but Alaska and Nebraska.

Georgia DFACS spokeswoman Beverly Jones said 380 babies have been legally abandoned statewide since the law was passed in 2002. That includes 14 children left at hospitals this year between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30.

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