Pennsylvania Department Of Public Welfare Reminds New Parents About 'Safe Haven' Law

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Pennsylvania expectant parents and parents of newborns reminded that Pennsylvania's Safe Haven law allows them to legally and confidentially turn over unwanted infants up to 28 days old to any hospital as an alternative to abandonment.

On June 14 near Philadelphia, a newborn girl who was found submerged in a commode was later declared dead at an area hospital, according to authorities. The case remained under investigation today.

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"We are always saddened to learn that a child has been harmed when there are viable options for parents in need," said Public Welfare Secretary Estelle B. Richman. "When a young woman is pregnant and not prepared for the responsibilities of parenthood, often they are afraid and are unsure of where to turn for help. The Safe Haven program provides a safe, legal and confidential option for them and their child."

There are nearly 270 hospitals in Pennsylvania where parents may safely surrender their baby if they fear they cannot care for the child. Babies can be handed over to any hospital staff member or, if a person is unwilling or unable to wait, they will be directed by signs on where to place the baby. As long as the child is unharmed, the parents will not be asked any questions.

It is recommended, but not required, that the parent provide medical information for the child. A baby turned over to a Safe Haven hospital will receive necessary medical care. The county's child and youth agency will work to find the baby a loving family through the state's foster care system.

Pennsylvania is one of 48 states that has a Safe Haven law. To date, five babies have been saved through the program.

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