Friday, June 25, 2010

A Safe Haven for Mothers

The Safe Haven law in Maryland, passed in 2002, allows mothers to leave newborn babies at a hospital, fire or police station without being prosecuted and with no questions asked.

That means Sinai and Northwest hospitals are safe havens. The purpose of the law is to protect newborn babies who may be abandoned by their mothers who are afraid they would be subject to legal action if they cannot keep the child. The law aims to protect the health of a newborn baby, who may be especially at risk if a pregnant woman is fearful or in denial of her pregnancy.

The baby must be 10 days old or younger and unharmed for the mother to be protected by this law. The mother needs to hand the baby to someone at a Safe Haven facility and say that she cannot take the baby. If she is willing to answer a few questions with a social worker it is helpful, but not required.

Hospital employees should know that if a mother hands their baby to them and states they cannot keep the baby, the employee should call security, and an officer will escort the baby and employee to Sinai ER-7 or Northwest ER-7. The mother may either leave at that time or go with the baby and employee to answer questions.

A baby who is brought to a hospital will be examined and treated, and a social worker will notify the Baltimore City Department of Social Services or Baltimore County Department of Social Services. The baby will be placed in a safe foster care or potential adoptive home.

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