Safe Haven – “Baby Moses Laws”
A baby was left in the parking lot of a Massachusetts hospital. The baby was found next to a nurse’s car. This happened at the UMass Memorial HealthAlliance-Clinton Hospital in Leominster, MA. The baby was taken inside the hospital for further evaluation. The mother of the baby was nowhere to be found. Due to the Safe Haven legislation in MA this Mother will not be facing criminal charges.
There are numerous stories involving mothers leaving their unwanted newborn babies in unsafe places such as parking lots, alleyways, and trash cans. These Mothers in desperation have abandoned their babies.
To help mothers in desperation safely abandon their babies, The Department of Children and Families (DCF) have endorsed Safe Haven laws in MA. This law is also known as “Baby Moses Laws“. Safe Haven laws have experienced much controversy because they are alleged to encourage easy baby disposal. These laws allow parents to leave their unwanted babies in designated locations where the infant will be safely cared for. Designated safe haven locations vary from state to state. In MA the Safe Haven locations may include the following:
- Hospitals and Health Care Clinics
- Police Stations
- Fire Stations
The purpose of the Safe Haven laws is to protect unwanted infants from harm. The law also provides parents an alternative to avoid facing abandonment charges, if there are no signs of abuse and/or neglect. Most of the states have Safe Haven Laws. The laws vary by state regarding age limit, who can give away a child, and conditions required to abandon a child. Most states limit the age of who may be placed in a designated safe haven location to infants 72 hours old or younger. Some other states accept infants up to 1 month old. The states determine who may leave unwanted babies in a designated location. The obvious being the mother of the child (sometimes fathers depending on the state). A few states do not specify the relationship of the person to the infant.
Abandoning an unwanted infant to a safe haven provider relieves a person of any criminal charges. It also relieves a person of their parental rights to the infant. Some states allow parents who change their mind to reclaim custody of a relinquish infant within a certain period.