What is the Safe Haven Act?
The Safe Haven Act of Massachusetts (2004) allows a parent to legally surrender newborn infants 7 days old or younger at a hospital, police station, or manned fire station without facing criminal prosecution. The Safe Haven Act is an amendment to Chapter 119 of the Massachusetts General Laws, section 39½. The law becomes effective on October 29, 2004.
How does the Safe Haven Act define the following terms?
• Newborn infant: a baby 7 days old or younger.
• Voluntary placed, voluntary placement or voluntary abandonment: voluntarily leaving the newborn infant with an appropriate person at a designated facility.
• Designated Facility: hospital (it is preferred that the newborns specifically be taken to an acute care hospital emergency department), police department or manned fire station; the locations stipulated by the Safe Haven Law.
• Appropriate person: someone at a designated facility who is able to ensure that the newborn infant is safe; for example, the triage person in a hospital emergency department or duty officer in a police station.
• Notification: An immediate notice to be filed with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on the voluntary surrender of the newborn infant.
When is the Safe Haven Act applicable?
When a parent voluntarily surrenders a newborn infant 7 days of age or younger with an appropriate person at a hospital, police department or manned fire station and there are no signs of abuse or neglect of the infant.