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Bill Expands Newborn Protection Act to Include Emergency Service Providers as Safe Havens for Newborns

December 15, 2017

Pennsylvania’s Legislature approved a bill that would expand the state’s Newborn Protection Act of 2002 to include emergency services providers as “safe havens” for women to relinquish their unwanted or impossible-to-care-for newborns to caregivers. The bill now heads to the Governor.

Under the current law, infants can only be surrendered to medical staff at a hospital or a police officer at a police station. House Bill 1139, by Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton), adds emergency services providers (such as emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, advanced emergency medical technicians, and paramedics) to the list of caregivers who could accept relinquished newborns.

“The aim of this bill is to ensure the safety and well-being of innocent newborns,” Topper said. “I am grateful the bill will reach the governor’s desk for his signature and will help newborns have a chance to live the full, healthy lives they deserve.”

Under the act, once a newborn is surrendered, he or she is placed into protective custody and transported to a hospital to undergo a medical evaluation. The county children and youth agency and local police or state police must also be contacted. Parents who surrender an infant at proper locations cannot be held criminally liable unless the newborn has been abused or is the victim of criminal conduct.

Since the Newborn Protection Act was enacted in 2002, 36 babies have been relinquished and subsequently adopted.

Consumers who would like to learn more about the act, may contact Pennsylvania Safe Haven website or hotline at 1-866-921-7233.

For additional information on this bill, please contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice-president of state legislative advocacy. 

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