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1-866-921-SAFE Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Tom Corbett, Governor

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

 

FACT SHEET
Pennsylvania's Safe Haven Law

What is Safe Haven?

Safe Haven gives mothers a safe, legal and confidential alternative to abandoning their baby. Pennsylvania is one of 49 states that have passed a Safe Haven Law.


How does Safe Haven work?

It allows parents to relinquish newborns up to 28 days old at any hospital in the state of Pennsylvania without the fear of criminal prosecution as long as the baby has not been harmed. Babies can be left with any hospital staff member or if a person is unwilling or unable to wait, they will be directed by signs on where to place the baby. Many hospitals have bassinets located near entryways where babies can be placed.


Why is Safe Haven necessary?

Young girls and women who might be hiding their pregnancies or arenít ready to be mothers are often scared, and donít know where to turn. Out of fear or shame, some mothers abandon their baby hours after birth. Safe Haven gives parents an option that is both safe for their child and confidential.


Does it work?

Yes! Since Safe Havenís inception in Pennsylvania, 25 babies have been successfully handed over to hospitals and subsequently adopted.


What happens to the mother/father?

No information from the parents is needed and no questions will be asked. The person leaving the baby can provide family medical information if they choose or they can take a health history form to fill out later and mail in anonymously. As long as the baby is less than 28 days old and not harmed or abused, they will not get into trouble with the police.


What happens to the baby?

When a baby is left at the hospital, he or she is in safe hands. A doctor will examine the baby and provide any medical care needed. Then, the local county children and youth agency will take custody of the baby and find him or her a loving family.


Who is the target of the Safe Haven program?

In most cases, these mothers are unwed, 15 to 25 years old, and the pregnancy is either unwanted or hidden. These women are often alone, afraid and unaware of the options they have after the baby is born.


Where can you get more information?

The Safe Haven Web site is www.secretsafe.org. Another great advice and information center for mothers is the Pennsylvania Safe Haven Helpline: 1-866-921-SAFE (7233).