SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Safe Haven Act, brought to light in western Massachusetts, after a baby was found abandoned on a doorstep in Springfield Sunday evening.
22News spoke to a lawyer to learn more about the laws surrounding child abandonment.
“The Safe Haven Act was enacted in 2004 and it provides definition of designate facilities where a newborn infant can be brought within seven days after birth, typically the newborn should be brought to the hospital,” James B. Winston, a lawyer explained.
The act also allows a parent or guardian to legally abandon newborn infants to other designated areas like a police station, or manned fire station, without facing criminal prosecution.
Local leaders saying more outreach needs to be done so parents who are in crisis know their options.
“We know that they happen so we need to continue the conversations about the law that is present in Massachusetts to make sure that it’s getting the information out to the community,” said State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez.
Each state in the U.S. has its own version of a Safe Haven law but age and designated locations do differ. Just over state lines in Connecticut, an infant must be 30 days or younger and can only be brought to a hospital.
And now, new concerns that this may become a growing issue elsewhere in the country after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“That might be a by-product of what we saw the Supreme Court do last year,” said Winston. “You might see an increase in some of the those states where mothers are bringing children to those facilities.”
The National Safe Haven Alliance has a 24/7 emergency line. That number is 1-888-510-2229.