N.J. considers expanding safe havens for unwanted infants

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to expand the number of safe havens where unwanted newborns can be taken.

Current law allows a distressed parent who is unable or unwilling to care for a newborn to drop off the baby at a hospital emergency room or police station with no questions asked.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Tony Bucco would designated manned fire stations and rescue squad headquarters as places where parents unable to care for a newborn can leave the child.

“We’ve heard comments from people where they said it’s very traumatizing to go, especially to a police station, and try to hand off a baby, and they’re reluctant to do that,” said Bucco, R-Morris. “This is not necessarily a friendlier atmosphere, but it’s not the authoritative type of atmosphere that you get at a police station.”

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Since the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act became law in 2000, 59 babies have been safely surrendered, allowing the state division of Children and Families to place them in a foster or pre-adoptive home.

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