Alabama expands Safe Haven Law
Expanding on the current laws surrounding the safety of surrendered infants, the Alabama State Legislature aims to further protect these infants through House Bill 473.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WTVY) - Alabama’s Safe Haven Law will soon provide even greater protections for surrendered infants following the Alabama State Legislature’s unanimous passage of House Bill 473 on June 1.
Freshman Representative Donna Givens (R - Loxley) sponsored the bill, introducing the legislation last month. To her, the safety of infants who are surrendered are of the upmost importance.
“We have to do everything we can to prevent harm to these babies,” said Givens. “We want mothers and fathers who are unable to care for their babies to have safer, more compassionate options to leave infants where they can receive care before going to loving homes.”
Under Alabama’s current laws, infants can only be surrendered to hospitals within 72 hours of birth. That time period will extend to 45 days with House Bill 473, and fire stations with 24/7 emergency medical personnel will be able to accept surrendered newborns.
The Department of Human Resources, which oversees child welfare programs, was an essential partner on the bill.
“Without a doubt, this bill will reduce the risk of harm to infants by giving parents more choices and more time to surrender newborns safely in times of crisis,” said DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner.
Also included in House Bill 473 was the permission to install “baby boxes” in local hospitals and fire stations. These boxes allow for parents in crisis to surrender infants into safely and anonymously, instead of leaving them somewhere dangerous.
Baby boxes will be accessible from the inside and outside of approved facilities. Exterior access is locked once a baby is placed inside of the container, and first responders are alerted to retrieve the child immediately through a silent alarm.
An unknown donor has pledged the funds necessary to install the first 10 baby boxes in fire stations near colleges in Anniston, Auburn, Baldwin County, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, the Muscle Shoals area, and in Tuscaloosa.
“Those babies will have their lives saved and get to grow up in homes with families who will love and nurture them,” said Givens. “It’s a win-win-win situation.”
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