Region 8 Grandmother Fights For Child Neglect Legislation

February 14, 2005 – Posted at 8:03 p.m. CST

PARAGOULD, AR – Infant Garrett Shawn Simpson was alive less than three months, but his unfortunate death may help other babies live long, healthy lives. Monday morning in Little Rock, the Arkansas Senate committee passed a bill to expand the definition of neglect.

It now includes causing babies to be born with illegal drugs in their systems. The bill will now go before the Senate for voting.

Since the death of her grandson in April of 2004, Betty Stahl has spent countless hours making sure other families don't have to endure the pain that her family has experienced. She proposed a bill called Garrett's Law to honor her grandson.

Simpson died two months and thirteen days after being born addicted to Meth.

"If a child has any illegal drugs in his system at the time of birth, then the Arkansas State Police can be notified and they can check in the home, monitor the home, and check on any other child in the home," said Stahl.

Simpson was born six weeks early, and under the influence of drugs. Stahl is hoping something positive will come from her grandson's unfortunate death.

"This will open up doors," said Stahl, "It's to protect the children, and that is all it's for."

Stahl was in the room when the Senate approved the bill and declared it a bittersweet victory for the family of Garrett Simpson.

"We just all started crying and hugging, it was just so overwhelming," said Stahl as she wiped away tears.

Stahl knows that nothing will bring her grandson back, but she says it's the memory of him, forever in her heart, that will keep her fighting for the future of other babies born like her grandson.