Safe Haven For Newborns

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The Safe Haven Act is a law that allows parents - or another person who has the parent's authorization - to leave an infant up to 30 days old at a hospital or health care facility without fear of prosecution for abandonment. A parent may also contact 911 and relinquish physical custody of an infant up to 30 days old to a first responder of the 911 call. More than 30 children have been declared safe havens since the Iowa law was enacted in 2002. All states have Safe Haven laws, although provisions differ.

 

Requirements for Parents

A parent - or another person authorized by the parent to relinquish physical custody of an infant:
 

 May

 Cannot

 Directly relinquish physical custody of an infant to an individual on duty at:
  • A hospital,
  • A residential care facility,
  • A nursing facility,
  • An intermediate care facility for persons with mental illness, or
  • An intermediate care facility for persons with an intellectual disability.

Be required to provide  identifying information.
 Leave the infant at a hospital or health care facility and immediately   contact the facility or call a 911 service to be sure that:
  • An individual on duty is aware of the location of the infant, AND
  • The facility knows an infant has been left there under provisions of the Safe Haven Act.
  • Contact 911 and relinquish physical custody to a first responder of the 911 call.
Be charged with abandonment.

 

Immunity

The law provides immunity from prosecution for abandonment for a parent - or a person acting with the parent's authorization - who leaves an infant at a hospital or health care facility.

The Safe Haven Act provides immunity from civil or criminal liability for hospitals, health care facilities, and persons employed by those facilities that perform reasonable acts necessary to protect the physical health and safety of the infant.