SAFE HAVEN LAW EXPANDED TO NOW INCLUDE POLICE

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate of Pennsylvania today passed legislation to expand the state’s Safe Haven law to include police officers, according to Senator John R. Gordner (R-27).  House Bill 1090 by Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-Philadelphia) passed the Senate unanimously and has been sent to Governor Tom Corbett for his signature to become law.

In July of 2001, a newborn infant’s body was discovered in a trash compactor at the Sunbury Municipal Transfer Station.  “Baby Mary’s” death led to the enactment of the state’s Safe Haven law by former Sen. Edward W. Helfrick in 2002, which allows parents of newborns to safely abandon them at medical facilities without fear of prosecution.  House Bill 1090, once signed into law, will allow legal abandonments to also occur at police stations if the infant is surrendered to an officer.

Since a rash of national infant abandonments in the late 1990’s, all fifty states have enacted Safe Haven statutes, and many include provisions that allow safe abandonments with police.  The National Safe Haven Alliance estimates over 1,000 babies have been saved due to the laws, including several in Pennsylvania.

“Child abandonment should never be encouraged, but Safe Haven has proven to be successful in cases which almost always involve young, immature mothers who are generally hiding their pregnancies and are unprepared for child rearing,” said Senator Gordner.

Pennsylvania’s Safe Haven law continues to provide an important educational and informational component to alert young mothers to options and to discourage abandonment.  Information on Pennsylvania’s Safe Haven Program operated by the Department of Public Welfare may be found at www.secretsafe.org.

CONTACT:  Todd B. Roup (717)787-8928