A 21-year-old woman surrendered her newborn to a Los Angeles fire station this week, shedding light on the power of Safe Surrender laws.
The baby was taken to a downtown L.A. fire station at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and found to be in good health, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The child was then taken to a hospital.
California’s Safe Surrender law aims “to save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment by encouraging parents or persons with lawful custody to safely surrender the infant within 72 hours of birth, with no questions asked,” the fire department said.
“All fire stations both in the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles are Safe Surrender locations,” the department said.
That same day firefighters in Houston said a “visibly upset” woman dropped off a baby to a fire station, telling the firefighters the newborn was just 1 hour old.
That baby was taken to a hospital immediately, the firefighters said.
Firefighters from Station 21 took care of a newborn after it was dropped off by a woman just after midnight. The crew was told by the woman, who was visibly upset, that the baby was just an hour old. The crew’s priority was to get the baby to the hospital ASAP to get checked out. pic.twitter.com/3XJOKMukZ2
— Houston Fire Dept (@HoustonFire) October 8, 2019
Safe Surrender or Safe Haven laws differ by state, including how much time after birth a parent or guardian has to surrender the child. In 32 states, parents or guardians have 30 days to relinquish the child, Damien Johnson, director of communications of the National Safe Haven Alliance, told ABC News.
Laws also differ on which locations are considered safe havens. In every state, a hospital is a safe location. Some states also allow a child to be taken to a fire station or police station, said Johnson.
The first Safe Haven law was enacted in Texas in 1999, and since then all states as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have passed Safe Haven legislation, saving over 4,000 babies, according to the National Safe Haven Alliance. There is no federal legislation, Johnson said.
You can reach the toll-free crisis hotline at 1-888-510-BABY or get information on your state by clicking the map here at nationalsafehavenalliance.org.