Pennsylvania’s Newborn Protection Act (Safe Haven Program) was enacted 10 years ago, today, Feb. 6. Pennsylvania lawmakers passed the Newborn Protection Act on February 6 2003, establishing the Safe Haven Program and requiring hospitals to provide a safe place for parents to leave a newborn, with no questions asked or identification required.
Prior to the enactment of the Safe Haven Program, overwhelmed parents had no avenue to relinquish custody of a newborn. While most newborns were left with relatives or friends, several were killed or left in unsafe locations. The later was the tragic end for “Baby Mary," who was killed and left in a trash bin in Northumberland County 10 years ago.
The case of “Baby Mary” was also the inspiration that moved Pennsylvania’s lawmakers into action. Marking today’s 10-year milestone, the Department of Public Welfare reminds communities that there are alternatives to abandoning a newborn.
By law, all hospitals in Pennsylvania participate in the Safe Haven Program, providing convenient locations to protect newborns from abandonment if their parents determine that they are unable to care for them properly. Newborns up to 28 days old can be brought to any hospital in Pennsylvania and be given to hospital staff with no questions asked.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, during the past 10 years, 21 babies have been saved through the Safe Haven Program after they were left at hospitals in 14 Pennsylvania counties. In 2012 alone, five newborns were surrendered to the Safe Haven Program. For more information, expecting or new parents can anonymously learn more about the Safe Haven Program by calling calling 1-866-921-SAFE or by visiting www.secretsafe.org.