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Safe-haven Laws

South Carolina's "Daniel's Law"

Daniel's Law was established in 2000 after "Baby Daniel" was found under nearly three inches of dirt in a landfill. It was set up to help both the mother and the infant. Under the law, a person who abandons a newborn at a hospital or outpatient facility can not be prosecuted. It applies to infants up to 30 days old. The person leaving the child does not have to reveal his or her identity.

Nebraska's Safe-haven Law

Controversy has arisen out the safe haven law enacted in Nebraska in July 2008. The Nebraska law has been interpreted to define a child as anyone under 18, and has resulted in abandonments of teenage children.

How Prolific are Safe-Haven Laws?

To date, approximately 47 States and Puerto Rico have enacted safe-haven legislation. The focus of these laws is protecting newborns. In approximately 15 States, infants who are 72 hours old or younger may be relinquished to a designated safe haven. Approximately 14 States and Puerto Rico accept infants up to one month old. Other States specify varying age limits in their statutes.

Who Can Give Up a Child?

In most states, either parent may surrender his or her baby to a safe haven. In Georgia, maryland, Minnesota and Tennessee, only the mother may relinquish her infant. Idaho law states only a custodial parent may surrender an infant. In approximately 11 states, anyone with approval of the parents may take a baby to a safe haven for a parent. Six states do not specify the person who may relinquish an infant.

(Information provided by Child Welfare Information Gateway)

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