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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 Pennsylvania hospital or to a police officer at a police station without the fear of criminal prosecution as long as the baby has not been harmed. To make sure that your baby gets the care it needs, you can give your baby to a hospital staff member without having to give them any information. If you don't want to do that, as long as you leave the the baby at a hospital, you don't have to give the baby to anyone. Some hospitals even have a crib or bassinet for you to put the baby in. If you take the baby to a police station, you must give the baby to a police officer.


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 or with a police officer at a police station, he or she is in safe hands. The baby will be examined by a doctor and provided any medical care needed. 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).