New Jersey has expanded its Safe Haven Infant Protection Act to give another option to parents to safely surrender newborns without fear of prosecution.
“The decision to surrender your newborn is difficult and emotional,” State assemblywoman Angela McKnight, one of the sponsors of the bill, said in a statement. “With this law, we are giving parents another logical safe haven drop-off location to protect both them and their infant.”
“Giving parents more options to safely surrender their newborn after birth not only protects more infants from otherwise dangerous or deadly situations, but it also prevents parents from being prosecuted as well,” added bill co-sponsor Sen. Kristin Corrado.
New Jersey’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act allows parents — or someone acting on their behalf — to leave an unharmed baby less than 30 days old with staff at a police station, fire station, ambulance, first aid or rescue squad without facing prosecution. Parents can now voluntarily surrender their newborns at the hospital where the birth took place.
Once cleared by a medical professional, infants who have been surrendered are placed into a foster or pre-adoptive home through the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
“Whatever the reason may be, some people simply aren’t ready to be parents when their baby is born. In New Jersey, we offer a legal, judgment-free way for individuals to surrender their baby to professionals who will ensure the infant receives the care they need,” New Jersey governor Phil Murphy said in a statement. “Expanding this critical law will make it easier for residents to safely give their baby up after childbirth by making entire hospitals safe surrender sites.”
“Since August 2000, nearly 90 infants have been protected from harm because the Safe Haven law provides an assurance of no shame, no blame and no names when parents, or their designees, make the hard, yet loving decision to surrender a baby they cannot care for,” Department of Children and Families’ commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer said in a statement.
Gov. Murphy signed the bill A4110/S2828 into law last week: September is Safe Haven Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness about the safe and legal options available to parents who wish to give up a baby they are unable or unwilling to care for.
More information can be found at njSafeHaven.org or by calling the Safe Haven Hotline at (877) 839-2339.