Moore: Safe Havens law saves lives
The potentially tragic incident in Danbury last weekend where a newborn was abandoned behind a grocery store illustrates the importance of the state’s Safe Havens law, according to State Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-22nd, who represents a district that includes all of Trumbull.
Moore, who is chairman of the Human Services Committee, recently voiced her support for a bill to strengthen protections for the adoptive and biological parents of infants under the Safe Haven program, which allows distressed parents to anonymously leave an infant at a hospital without fear of prosecution.
House Bill 7121 prohibits hospital employees from disclosing information about the infant or biological parent to the Department of Children and Families in order to protect the anonymity of the biological parent and child. The bill is a direct response to a situation that occurred in Connecticut in 2016. A Safe Haven infant was removed from the custody of its soon-to-be adoptive mother Katie Leavitt, who had already been caring for the baby three months, after DCF learned from hospital staff that the child possibly had a sibling in state custody.
“No infant or family should have to endure such terrible and unnecessary heartache and this bill will help make sure of that,” Moore said. “In its 17 years of its existence, the Safe Haven law has helped save over two dozen babies in Connecticut. It’s truly a life-saving program and I’m glad we were able to pass this piece of legislation to make it even stronger.”
In addition to prohibiting hospitals from sharing information on the baby and parent with DCF, unless there’s reasonable cause to believe the infant was abused or neglected, the bill prohibits the commissioner from ordering a DNA test without a court order. It also establishes a time limit of 30 days for DCF to remove an infant from the adoptive family’s care, unless in the case of abuse. After passing unanimously in the House and Senate Wednesday, the bill moves to the governor’s desk for his signature.
This year is the 17th anniversary of the passage of Connecticut’s “Safe Havens” bill, which enables a distressed parent to anonymously leave an infant at any hospital emergency room in Connecticut without fear of prosecution for abandonment, up to 30 days after birth. Though a nurse will ask the parent for their name and for medical information on the infant and parent, the parent does not have to provide that information.
Safe Havens babies are placed into homes with families that adopt the child. In the 17 years since its passage, 27 “Safe Havens” babies have been brought to an emergency room under the law, including one who was brought to Bridgeport Hospital in 2006.