Safe Haven Law Would Expand Under Proposed Legislation [AUDIO]
Fifteen years ago, a Jersey teen gave birth in a public bathroom stall near to where her prom was being held - then wrapped up the newborn in a garbage can liner and dumped it in the trash before returning to the dance. Following the so called Prom-Mom episode, Jersey lawmakers passed the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act in 2000, which allowed new mothers to anonymously give up their newborns at any hospital or police station. Since then more than 50 babies have been safely handed over to authorities.
One of the original Safe Haven sponsors is now introducing legislation to expand the law, and allow parents to also drop their unwanted babies off at firehouses and first aid stations that are staffed 24-7.
State Senator Tony Bucco says "the law has been successful - I think you have seen less of these abandoned babies and babies in garbage cans and what not…you can do this no questions asked- they don't ask your name, they don't want any details, it's just that they're trying to save the child."
He says anonymity is an important component of the law because if the mother is 15 or 16 years old, she may be "traumatized by the pregnancy - and worried about whether they're going to - someone's going to find out about it. Some people are still unaware that this kind of an option exists, and that's why we're publicizing it more so that these youngsters realize that there is an out of giving up this baby without trying to get rid of it."
The measure is due to be considered today by the State Senate Health and Human Services Committee.